Thursday, 15 November 2012

reconciling the gospels of Durrell

A few weeks ago a wrote a review of "My Family and Other Animals" by Gerald Durrell in which he relates the time he spent on Corfu with his family.  In the course of writing the review I read a little about his elder brother, Lawrence.  In MFaOA, Larry is quite a character and many of the laugh-out-loud moments come from the clever narration of his antics.  But as I read more about him, something quite disturbing emerged.

It was this.

Lawrence Durrell has also written about the account of the family on Corfu (Prospero's Cell).  This is not disturbing in itself, but there are a number of points at which the two accounts are so different (apparently, I haven't read his book) as to make one wonder about how they can both be true.

Lawrence writes about his wife and the house they shared in another part of the island.

Wait a minute!  He was married???

In Gerry's book (MFaOA), there is absolutely no mention of a sister-in-law and Larry lives with the family.

Now this is a little troubling.  Both cannot be true at this point.

Well the facts can be confirmed and Larry was in fact married.  He married Nancy Isobel Myers* on January 22 1935 and they remained married throughout the whole time in which MFaOA was set.

Well.  Having just fallen head-over-heals in love with the book, and therefore to some extent, its late author, this was a bit of a blow.  I began to wonder about all the natural history in the book which I loved.  Was this all made up too?  Could I trust any of it?

And as I began thought about this, it brought to mind the gospels of Jesus Christ and the differences between them, and if and when differences between two accounts of the same events necessitate one (or both) being unreliable.

So I'm hoping to clarify my thoughts about this by getting them down on paper (on screen, that is) and hoping for your help as I go.

* Nancy's daughter, Joanna Hodgkin, recently wrote a book "Amateurs in Eden: the story of a bohemian marriage" in order to tell her mother's story (read a review here).

Monday, 12 November 2012

not quite what I'm looking for, but close

I thought I would have to design it myself.  But it seems it is already out there.  Here is a rubbish-free lunch box produced by Nude Food Movers.  One container.  No glad wrap, no snap-lock bags: no packaging required.


But.  I can't see that you can put un-cut fruit like apples, oranges and pears inside as the sections don't look big enough.  I don't want another container and I don't want the fruit rolling around in the bag, squished and dirty by lunchtime.

Do you know of a lunch-box on the market that fits the criteria below?
  • everything in one container only (except for drink bottle)
  • no rubbish generated in packing the lunch box
  • separate sections for a sandwich and snacks
  • room for uncut fruit such as apples, oranges and pears
Could you design one?  We could probably print it ourselves on those fancy new 3D printers.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

what an airport says about your country

Before I even left the tarmac and entered the airport in Port Vila I could hear the happy, bouncy sounds of a string band*.  "We welcome you... we welcome you... we welcome you today!"  The musicians were colourfully dressed with big smiles.  They kept the children entertained while we waited in line for customs.

We felt welcomed.  Genuinely, warmly, cheerfully welcomed.

Months later I returned to Sydney.  I walk through long tunnels.  No-one helps me with the children.  I don't know which turn to take.  There are so many pictures, so much advertising I cannot focus on the signs which give me directions.  Suddenly, I am in the middle of a shop.  I am hedged in by teetering, grasping piles of luxury goods; their prices are flashing before my eyes.  I don't know which way to go.  Where are my bags?  Does anyone want to see my passport?  Or only my wallet?

We'll give you a smile.  As long as you give us your money.

Welcome to Sydney.

* guitars, bush-bass, ukelele, voice

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

This book provided the most laugh-out-loud-moments-per-word than any book I have read in a long time and I highly recommend it.  Let me tell you a little about it.

My Family and Other Animals was written by the naturalist Gerald Durrell.  He writes his experience on the island of Corfu with his family between 1935 and 1939.  He writes about the island; its people and its customs. He writes about his family; their friends, their houses, their conversations and their altercations.  There are some seriously funny moments.

He writes about the natural history he observed.  Although he was only eight when he arrived on Corfu, he demonstrated an amazing love for wildlife as well as the tenacity and patience to wait, observe and record what he saw.  There are some seriously incredible moments. He relates, for instance, in great and terrifying detail, a chance fight between a mantid (think praying mantis) and a gecko, both of which he had already individually observed and named. You'll have to read it to find out who wins!

He writes very well, combining charm and humour with clever use of language*. On occasion the descriptions of places or creatures can be a little tedious but are happily skipped. On the whole I think he does an excellent job of taking what usually remains in the hands of the white-coated and putting it the hands of the ordinary man. If all natural history was this much fun the world would be a better place.

This book was recommended to me by friend without the background in science that I have. So make no mistake. This book is for you!

 * I particularly loved his use of the simile. Here are some of my favourites:
"we were served by the bewhiskered porter, who had become the head waiter simply by donning tails and a celluloid dicky that creaked like a convention of crickets." 
"I had hoped to give an impression of gracious majesty, and this is what happens... we arrive in town like a troupe of medieval tumblers." (this one from his brother, Larry). 
"the three dogs hung out their tongues and panted like ancient, miniature railway engines."

Thursday, 11 October 2012

birds birds birds

At the moment we are house-sitting in a back street of Blaxland in the Blue Mountains.  The property does not back onto the bush but is beautifully but haphazardly gardened with portions of "bush" left un-tamed and un-landscaped.

We have seen so many birds!

Kookaburras, Magpies, Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulfur-Crested White Cockatoos are around in abundance.  But this is nothing special.  They're all a dime-a-dozen up here in the mountains.

The Wattle birds are a little more unusual and the King Parrots have been special.

The Satin Bowerbirds (male and female) have been a real treat and have the most curious song which I have never heard before.

And the Lyrebird!  I have seen these in the bush but to see one in a suburban back yard was delightful!  I have mentioned it to the neighbours and they all know these lyre birds (they are a pair) and can track their progress down the street, staying first in one person's yard and then another.  

But my greatest boast is finding the Satin Bowerbird's bower!  Can you believe it!  I wasn't even looking for it but heard the call of the bird as I was out walking one evening and ducked down to have a look inside a bush by the side of the road and there was the bower.  A large nest of sticks spread on the ground with the boughs of the bush forming a cozy and secluded little haven.   The next day is was complete with a blue peg!

Don't you think it quite astonishing that a Bowerbird should construct its little home on the ground right next to the road?  And that leads me to another curious point: I have not seen one cat in the neighbourhood what-so-ever.  I am convinced the two are related.

Friday, 7 September 2012

back to school worry... again

A few weeks ago our children began "real" school. This is Sophie's third, Bethany's second and Matthew's first time in school and it will be their longest.  No tears, just a lot of anxiety from me about how they were all going to cope with it.

The day before they began we went down to the school to enrol, find uniforms and check the place out.  One child was welcomed with a hug upon visiting the class; one happily found a seat and wanted to stay until the end of the day and one refused to talk to the office lady and hid from the teacher. Understandably (don't you think), I was in a panic about how that child would cope when they began the next day.

Now it is that child most eager to get to school each day.

I still worry.

I keep meaning and keep forgetting to tell Matthew's teacher that he responds to a negative question with the opposite to expected answer. For example, to the question,
"So you didn't hit him?"
and he hadn't in fact hit him, we (in English) expect the answer, "no" meaning "no, I didn't hit him". But, our Matthew (following the Bislama construction) will say "yes" meaning, "yes, what you said is correct, I didn't hit him".  But in English, "yes" means "yes I did".  You can see how that would cause him some trouble!  And I worry.

Bethany told me before she started that she didn't want to make friends because "every one will be friendly to start with but after a while they will ignore me". Already in her short life she knows that the novelty of the new girl will wear off and that's when the tough business of making friends only just begins. She invests so much energy into friendship and I worry about her.

I worry that she doesn't understand how friendship works in Australia.  I worry that her attempts to show kindness and establish friendships will be misunderstood.  "I made a mistake Mum.  I didn't know I had to tell my friends I was going to play with someone else.  Now they think I don't like them.  But it isn't true."  And I worry that her fiery temper will cause her some trouble.

And I worry about Sophie. I want to be in class to say,
"that's enough questions now; don't ask 'why' so much; don't do that; don't do that; we don't do that here in Australia; like this; don't answer all the questions; they don't want to hear about that".
I want to be in the playground to say,
"You don't have to share one chocolate bar with all the children in the playground; don't order everyone around; they're not listening; don't stand so close; give people space; don't try to hold hands so much; they've had enough of that game; she doesn't want to run around; can't you tell from her expression?"

And I worry and I worry and I worry.

But God is with them in the classroom. And he is with them in the playground.

Maybe he won't say all the things I want to say.

And possibly, just possibly, that's for the best!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

sandwich bag dilemma

To all experienced school Mums and Dads,

How do you pack sandwiches for school?

Do you use sandwich bags?  Do you throw them out each time or wash and re-use?

Do you use glad-wrap to keep sandwiches fresh?  Does it annoy you that this just creates rubbish as well?

How else does one keep sandwiches fresh?

Lots of containers?

Looking for answers.

the little things in life...

I hung the washing on the line this morning.

All socks paired.  No odd socks.

Very satisfying.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


We are back in Australia until the end of January for rest and deputation.

The girls both had birthdays around the time we were leaving.  This became a chance for them to say good-bye to their friends, some of whom they won't see again now as their families will have graduated and left by the time we return.

Here's a photo we took at Sophie's birthday; the morning of a "sleep-over".  It was lots of fun, but for me it was mixed with a sadness that the girls themselves don't yet know or understand.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

the nit comb to end all nit combs

The only one worth having, see it here.

Be warned: do not attempt to use in dry hair.  Use in wet, conditioned hair only.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A couple of firsts

Last Friday we gave Lachlan his first hair-cut.

The first hair-cut is an important celebration in Vanuatu.  Traditionally, birthdays mean little but markers of growth and maturity mean a lot.  For example, a teenage boy here recently built his first house.  It is a traditional style hut, possibly a bush-kitchen, I am not sure, but in building it, 'he has proved himself to be a man'.  Similarly, Loki is no more considered a baby, but a small boy.

Well we don't know exactly how the first hair-cut is celebrated, but we organised food, invited some friends over and had a good time together.  I do know that the child's 'uncles' (the mother's brothers) are important in this celebration, but in their absence we asked Glen's cousin, who is a hairdresser and was visiting, to do the haircut.  I had a lovely time.

As it happened, Matthew's first tooth fell out the same morning.  So, half way through the celebration, when Loki had gone to sleep (he is, after all, only a small boy) Matthew took the place of honour, cut the cake, and we celebrated the fall of his first tooth!

Hopefully I can update this soon with some photographs.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

2 website reviews

For school recently, Sophie and Bethany have learnt to write a review. Here are their reviews of some websites they visited.  Disclaimer: our internet is heavily filtered so some of the bells and whistles websites have to make them interesting don't work for us.  That may be relevant!

Magic Ballerina: a website review

by Bethany Connor, aged 8 (just)

You can visit this website here.

It is a website that you will enjoy.

I like it because it is about the magic ballerina books and they are interesting and fun. It also has games such as printable sheets to make, and you can dress up a ballerina. It is also very easy to navigate.

But I think it is bad because it takes too long to load and you are only able to read a little of the Magic Ballerina books.

I recommend it to girls aged seven to nine. They will enjoy it.

The Emily Rodda Website

A website review by Sophie Connor, aged 10 (almost)

Did you know that Emily Rodda’s real name is Jennifer Rowe? Emily Rodda is her Grandma’s name.

Emily Rodda is a famous Australian children's author and her website has information about her and the many book series she has written.  It is easy to navigate with four headings at the top and isn’t confusing.

Unfortunately that is all I have good to say about it. There is nothing on it to do and it doesn’t give a plot summary of each book only of the series. The website is boring (even the biography has no pictures) and it hasn’t been updated since September 2011. I cannot help saying that I am a bit disappointed. This website is obviously for adults which is sad because generally children like her books more.

One of the four headings at the top says ‘profile’ if you click it you go to a place were there are a few interesting facts such as Emily Rodda’s name is actually Jennifer Rowe. Or that she lives in the Blue Mountains just like me (when I’m in Australia)!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

how old?

Me: Guess how old I will be tomorrow? Matthew: Umm, 20? Me: Older. Matthew: 26? Me: Older. Matthew: 27? Me: Older. Matthew: 28? Me: Older. Matthew: 69? Me: Younger! Matthew: Sixty-Zero? Me: Younger. Matthew: Hmmmm... 41? Me: Younger. Matthew: Oh, I know, I know, thirty-ten! Me: Thirty-ten is forty, and I'll be younger than forty. Matthew: [thinking hard] 31? Me: Older than 31 and younger than 41.... We went on and he eventually guessed correctly. But that's all you need to know. Older than 31 and younger than 41. Praise God, I'm still in his hands.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

what we learnt today

Eclipse viewers that were designed to view an eclipse of the sun by the moon will not allow you to view a transit of Venus. The image of the sun is simply too small to be able to see the infinitesimally smaller image of Venus.

But, not to be daunted, we improvised.

First we made a big pin-hole viewer. The longer the distance between the pinhole and the screen on which the image is viewed, the larger the image will be. So we used the coffee table. We taped cardboard to one end, with a pinhole in the middle. We covered it with blankets so as to block out the light. We mounted a white piece of paper at the other end for a screen.

To view, simply stick your head inside!

This worked. The image was just big enough to see the tiny, tiny speck that was Venus.
But what worked much better was this.

Glen rigged up a small set of binoculars so that the image of the sun was projected onto a piece of paper on the ground. The image was large enough to view the transit.

Here are the best of the photos we managed.




So now you all know what to do for next time. 2117.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

how we made a pinhole viewer

Here are some easy to follow photos showing how we made a pin-hole viewer, as mentioned here.

We followed (and slightly modified) the method from here.

What you need:
  1. a cereal box
  2. scissors
  3. baking paper
  4. masking tape or packing tape
  5. thumb tack (drawing pin)
  6. aluminium foil
  7. black T-shirt

What you do:
  1. Cut a flap in the bottom half of a cereal box as shown in the picture below.

  2. Cut a strip of baking paper the same size as the base of the box and tape it on the inside of the box, about 5cm from the base.

  3. Use the drawing pin to make a hole in the middle of the base of the box.

  4. Tape up the flap.

    We found that just masking tape wasn't enough to block out the light so we cut strips of aluminium foil or cardboard to go over the edges before covering those with masking tape again.

  5. Cut off the flaps at the top of the box and cut a curve in the edge. This is the viewing end and will be held over your eyes.

  6. Have a good look around outside on a sunny day! Everything is up-side down!

  7. Here comes our modification.  Tape the bottom of a black T-shirt around the viewing end of the box. We went over the masking tape with packing tape as it is stronger.

  8. Push your head through the head-hole of the T-shirt so it is on the inside of the T-shirt.

  9. Hold the viewing box up to your eyes as before.

  10. Have an even better look around outside on a sunny day! You can even see everything in colour.

As you can tell, I was pretty excited by this project. So easy to make and it worked so well.

Hoping for a sunny day tomorrow for the "Transit of Venus"!

QUICK! It's not to late to make a pinhole viewer!

Tomorrow there will be an eclipse of the sun by Venus. Actually it's not really an eclipse but a "transit".  Venus is not big enough or close enough to eclipse the sun, but it appears to move (or transit) across the face of the sun.  Only you can't see it with your naked eyes because you have to look directly at the sun AND THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS.  So here's how to view the transit.

Make a pinhole viewer.  They are easy and take about half and hour and use materials you have about the house.

Here's an easy one that is specially an eclipse viewer.  Our nine-year old made it on her own.

Here's one that is a general pinhole viewer.  This you can use for viewing everything through the pin-hole and everything is UP-SIDE DOWN.  I kid you not. It is amazing.  It has easy instructions to follow as well as an explanation of how it works.

You really need to block out the light.  When we taped the boxes, we put strips of foil along the cut edges first and then covered those with masking tape.  This kept out the light much better than the masking tape alone.

Then we made a really great improvement to the pin-hole viewer.  We took a black T-shirt and taped (using strong packing tape) the bottom of the shirt around the viewing end of the box.   Then you put your head through the head-hole to the inside of the T-shirt.  Thus all the light is blocked out and you get a really good picture on the inside.

We are really looking forward to the eclipse.  Let's pray for a sunny day!

Check out this site to find out when you can "see" the eclipse. Those on the east coast of Australia should be able to view the whole transit (should it be a sunny day).

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

so different

I have one daughter who carefully folds her clothes.  She stacks them neatly in piles on her shelf; newly folded things go to the bottom of the pile.  Even the intimates are folded neatly in a row; newly washed ones put to the back and the rest shuffled forward. Each morning she takes the clothes on the top of the pile to wear.  It doesn't matter what colour or what style.  Any T-shirt goes with any skirt.  This way, she says, everything is worn evenly.

My other daughter doesn't have neat piles on her shelf.  It's rather a jungle in there.   She selects clothes according to their colour and style.  If they don't match, she won't be seen.  She couldn't care less if some long forgotten article of clothing never gets worn.  In fact, when she discovers one of those, she quietly passes it on to a friend.  When Mum sees said friend walking around in daughter's clothes and politely questions that said daughter, she says; "I was hoping you wouldn't notice Mum, I know how hard you worked to make me something nice."


Saturday, 26 May 2012

but that's not fair

Anyone who is the eldest child will share this grievance.

Younger siblings are always allowed to do things at earlier ages than the eldest.
That's not fair!  I had to wait until I was ten to do that!  You always let them do things that I wasn't allowed to do!
Well as a parent I have finally come to understand why this is so.

Tonight we were at a community gathering.  I let my daughter go and sit outside with her friends.  Then I let my five year old follow her and sit with them.  It occurred to me that I never would have let my eldest, or even the second born do that at five.

And echoes filled my mind.
Not fair! Not fair! Not not not fair!
No my child, it isn't.  But if you'd had a ten year sister like you, I'd have let you do it too.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

another visit to the clinic

Yesterday Lachlan climbed out of his cot and fell headfirst onto a toy truck.  He split his head open.  We heard the crash and ran.  He was standing, his hand on his forehead, shocked.  Blood was running down the side of his face and dripping onto the floor.

Once it was cleaned up, it didn't look so terrible.  No stitches.  It was dressed at the local clinic.

It could've been worse.

We are very thankful to God that it wasn't.  Lessons learnt.

Friday, 18 May 2012

collapsible toddler barrier

Would someone invent this for me please?

It must be made of strong but light material.

It must expand and lock into the lower portion of a door frame (or similar space) so that it acts as a secure and safe barrier for toddlers.  

It must collapse into a size suitable to carry around as an easy attachment to an ordinary nappy-bag.

It could be used in all sorts of places... church, friend's places, grandparents... the sorts of places whose occupants have forgotten or had no experience of the wandering yet speedy toddler.

It would bring peace of mind to the frazzled parent and perhaps enable them to have a decent conversation.  For once.

Perhaps it has already been invented.  Let me know.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

what about giving and saving

Tom Richards wrote a post recently about missionaries and money, asking the question: how much money should missionaries be given? Should missionaries in the majority (or developing) world have enough money to continue to live a "western" lifestyle or should they be given the equivalent of a local salary and live a local lifestyle?

Glen and I have been giving this a lot of thought.

We think there is another question to ask as well the question of lifestyle.
It is this;
Should missionaries be given just enough to cover their expenses while living in the field or should they receive enough so they can also give and save?
Why should supporters have to give enough so that missionaries also can give? Why should they give extra just so we put some aside for a rainy day? Won't God look after the rainy day? Everyone knows how difficult the world financial market is at the moment. Is it fair to expect people to give over and beyond what it actually costs for someone to live on the field? And if they could give extra, wouldn't it be better to send someone else with this money?

But what if the missionary has a mortgage in their home country? Shouldn't they also have enough to pay for this? If they don't have a mortgage, should they be able to save in order to buy a house later on? Should missionaries on the field save the same amount as most Christians back home? What about super? How much is reasonable?

Jesus calls us to leave everything and go. Aren't we just trying to look like we're leaving everything but actually hanging on to it all at the same time?

And what constitutes living expenses? Medical insurance? Holidays? Education?

There are mission agencies that use both systems. We know missionaries on both.

What do you think?

Monday, 14 May 2012

books I read with Matthew last term

School with Matthew has been lots of fun this year so far.

 Each week we have a "letter of the week". We learn its name, its sound and how to write it. We have downloaded all sorts of activities from the internet to help.

More fun by far has been our "book of the week". Somewhere in the title of the book, preferably in a prominent position, must be the letter of the week. Even better is if there is the Upper Case and the Lower Case letter.  We read the book together and do activities inspired by it.  Here are the books we did last term:

Mr McGee and the Biting Flea by Pamela Allen (M)
Alexander's Outing by Pamela Allen (A)
Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale (T)
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion (H)
I will not Never, Not Ever, Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child (E)
I Went Walking by Sue Machin (W)
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson (L)
Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins (R)
Bertie and the Bear by Pamela Allen (B)
Imagine by Ruth Brown (I)
There’s a Sea in My Bedroom by Margaret Wild (S)

We enjoyed the sound, rhythm and rhyme of words; we've enjoyed acting out some of the stories. We've learnt about opposites and backwards counting. We've been on walks and outings and eaten moon-squirters. We're not even afraid of the sea anymore.

I'm looking forward to this term's books. We start with "P" this week. I've found three books: Possum Magic (and guess what we'll be cooking this week!), Paddington and the Princess and the Pea.

Any ideas of books for U, Y, V or K?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

a little about cargo cults

One of my readers asked if I could write more about cargo cults.

I don't have any personal experience with the John Frum cult on Tanna.  One of Bethany's friends is the daughter of a student who has been converted from the cult and has been working as a Pastor amongst his people.  So I'll try and have a chat or two to find out some more.

It will take me a little while to write something thoughtful about cargo cults.  For now, here are some links that give some basic information.

Wikipedia on cargo cults in general and John Frum in particular.

Other articles Tom has posted:

Flags and Stones - Jon Frum
Streams of Living Water
Can Goods Suffice?
Reflections on Darkenss; cargo cults in PNG

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

missionaries and money

Here's a post I'd like you to read about missionaries and money.   It's written by Tom Richards at Talking about Tanna who is preparing to go and live and work with his family in Tanna next year.

I've written a lot of my thoughts in the comments, so rather than replicate them here, I provide the link for you to go and read them.  I'd love for you to join in the discussion.  My comments have been more about "which lifestyle" than money per se but the assumption is that it is more expensive to live a western lifestyle.

It's especially pertinent to us at the moment as our mission agency considers changing the way they support us.

Monday, 30 April 2012

smiling and healthy

toktok! May 2012

(right click on image to download our latest newsletter)

p.s. Please let me know in the comments if you can't see the image or can't download. Thanks.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Mini Newspaper

BJC INCORPORATED              APRIL 2012          5 VATU
The Funny Fairy
The funny fairy was found in Mary Pevensie’s garden and it is named the funny fairy because it is so cute.
        Mary Pevensie, who first saw the funny fairy, tells us about it. “Hi. when you look at the photo I took don’t be confused by the wings because they have wings that can’t lift them off the ground but they fly with the breezes and their wings are invisible. I found that out because when I was about to go inside, I heard a buzzing noise and I turned around to
see the funny fairy flying away with the breeze and steering with its wings”.
        OK thank you Mary Pevensie for your information. This is the end of this article thank you for reading "the funny fairy".

Demesco Store 

Come to gymnastics. Make your muscles stronger every day. You would never get bullied again. Sign in at four. Have free training. Classes at One. Never be late.

The Mystery Plane at Two O'clock
Come at two o’clock, every one is welcome. Fly over jungles and bushes and have fun with the mystery plane. Some times you go on a mystery or go tracking down a crime and you might even see a dinosaur. So go on the mystery plane at two o’clock.

The Magic Club
BEFORE (in rags)
AFTER (in riches)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Australia or Vanuatu?

In this piece of writing, Sophie (9), discusses whether she would like to live in Australia or Vanuatu.  It's interesting to hear her perspective....

Our Mum and Dad are missionaries are we're allowed to choose whether we fly to Australia or Vanuatu.

There are many enjoyable things about living in Australia.  People are careful on the road because there are lots of fast cars on the road.  It is quick and easy to go to town.  Usually the stores have what you need.  There are lots of heated swimming pools so when you want to have a swim you had have one.  There are lots of fantastic foods.

There are some difficulties about living in Vanuatu.  Children run and play on the road!  It is hard to find transport because the roads are awful!  Things aren't so easy to find in the stores; often there won't be the thing you are looking for for weeks!  There aren't so many swimming pools and the few there are, are in very expensive hotels.  The foods aren't too lovely and they keep running out!

However, there are also many disadvantages to living in Australia.   Children who can't ride a bike on the road can't ride a bike at all.  There isn't much room to run around and you can only ride inside a car with a tight seatbelt on.  It's hard to visit friends who aren't in the block without driving.  You have to drive to church.

There are also great things about Vanuatu.  Children can ride bikes anywhere (when they can get them!).  There's lots of space to run around and you can ride on the back of trucks!  It's easy to walk to visit friends not on the block and it's easy to walk to church!

As for me, I'm still undecided about whether to go to Australia or Vanuatu.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

first words

Here are a collection of Lachlan's first words:
Mum (said more like the French, Mere) 
Some even come in intelligent combinations.

Oh!  I forgot these ones:
No  (usually in a string... nonononononono)
Blong mi (Bislama for mine)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

bible reading notes for primary schoolers

Can anyone help?  (Where've I heard that before?)

Can anyone recommend bible reading notes that they have used with success with primary school children who are fluent and avid readers?  Notes that encourage them to develop good habits of reading and reflecting on God's word.

We have used XTB in the past.  They were faithful and exciting but the activities could be completed without the child actually reading the text of scripture itself.

We have some books in a series called Discover 4 Yourself by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt which teaches inductive bible reading.  They look fantastic but are still a little out of reach for our eldest (9).

We have tried one or two other things but with little success.

Can you recommend anything?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

skipping rhymes and games

Can anyone help?

Can you remember any of the skipping rhymes that you used when you were young? 

Our girls have (finally) started to enjoy skipping with their friends (with a long rope).  Skipping isn't a tradition here so no-one knows any rhymes.

 I can remember:

Blue Bells
Cockle Shells
Iv-y I-vy Over

Little Red Racing Car
Number 99.
Racing round the cor-------ner

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear
turn around.
Teddy bear, teddy bear
touch the ground.
Teddy bear, teddy bear
go up the stairs
Teddy bear, teddy bear
say your prayers.
Teddy bear, teddy bear
turn out the light
Teddy bear, teddy bear
say good night.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fairies are Better than Goblins

an exposition by Bethany Connor (aged 7)

Fairies are better than goblins.  I will show you that fairies are better than goblins because fairies are good and goblins are bad.

Ferys are good because they make your wishes come trow.  They also help you when your lost.

Goblens are bad because they make you werk as slavs and thay mite kill you and eat you.

So now you can all see that farieys are better than goblans.

exposition angst

Parents of children in Australian schools will be familiar with NAPLAN tests that begin in year 3.  There are four tests; numeracy, reading (comprehension), language skills (grammar and spelling) and writing.

The writing component involves writing an exposition or essay.  They must state an opinion and give reasons for this opinion.  They are provided with stimulus for their thinking and guidelines for how to go about their exposition.  Quite generous.

Last year, when my first was in year 3, prior to the tests in May, the English component of her school work was wholly occupied with writing expositions.  She had to write so many expositions that by the time the tests were over and done even her poetry came out like exposition.

However, it wasn't an easy experience.
I don't know what to write! 
I don't have an opinion about that! 
I don't want to make one up!   I'm not supposed to make one up!

The topics didn't interest her.
Children should be allowed to chew gum in class. (class?)  
TV is better than books. (What's TV?)  
We should conserve water. (Why? Our water tank constantly overflows.  It rains all the time.)
Mostly there were tears.

And now my second is in year three.  We are no longer enrolled in an Australian school so NAPLAN doesn't concern us so much.  But I thought I'd teach her to write an exposition none-the-less.  We used the same book as last year. The topics were the same.
They're stupid! 
I'm not writing about that! 
Can't I write about something I'm interested in?
And then, just as the first tear began to roll and just as we locked heads for the fight, there was a thought.  Why couldn't she write about something she is interested it?  And I desperately floundered around in my brain trying to think of something she is interested in.
Fairies.  Would you like to write about Fairies?   
How about 'Fairies are better than Goblins?' 
But that's not real. It has to be real. 
You have to write an exposition.  Write it about something made up and later on we can try writing one about something real. 
She smiled.   
And we were off.  Not that it was easy going, but we were going.

And so I have learnt something.  If you can separate the content from the process of writing then the process of writing (may be) easier.

I have also learnt that topics that are supposed to appeal to children don't, even if they are based in their own experience.  Fairies trump gum every time.

I'll post her exposition next.

Monday, 26 March 2012

simmering in my brain

here are some titles for posts I intend to write soon, when I can manage it, if I ever do

* exposition angst
* 4w for prayer
* back from the grave
* why I hate the princess cult
* epiphany
* romance or arranged: the best way to get married

Friday, 16 March 2012

it's not hypothetical

I really would like some songs to fit those criteria.

We had a night here recently called "learning new songs".  Everyone is pretty much fed up with the same dozen or so choruses that have been sung since age immemorial and so a night for learning new choruses was included in the program.

Only it was difficult to find new songs that are not complicated.  Lyrics, tunes, rhythm, chords: all complicated.

Of the ten songs that were chosen, we learnt five.  Some worked better than others.  This was a few weeks ago now.  It was a great night.  They were good songs and we all really enjoyed singing them.  And I think over time we'll learn them... especially as there is time set aside each week for practise.

But it got me thinking about songs we could sing without words and music (which we either can't read or can't carry around with us) which we could learn in one sitting.  This would be great for teaching when students go into villages.  Songs which could be passed on easily.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Calling all songwriters

Here's a challenge.

This is what I want.  I want songs...

  • with lyrics that can be learnt by ear (not all of us can read, and some of us read very slowly) and in one sitting.  This might mean that they are short or that they make good use of repetition (but not repetition that makes us bored).
  • with rhythm that is not syncopated (we end up singing on the beat anyway).
  • with tune that is not difficult (we want to sing them, not listen to others do it for us).
  • with accompaniment that your average Joe Blog guitarist can play (we don't like whipping out the chord chart for every second line).
  • that bring glory to Christ and joy to the heart.

Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

if it is God's will

As it turned out, it was Glen that went to Port Vila today.  It brings to mind...
13 Come now, you who say, s“Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For tyou are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, u“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:13-15
Lachlan was quite sick in the night with a vomiting and diarrhoea bug that most of the rest of us have suffered from already.  When we had planned for me to go to Port Vila, we knew it would be a difficult day for Loki who is still breast-feeding at times during the day.  When he came down with the bug, I knew it wouldn't be fair on him or the rest of the family, to be away until late in the evening.  So sadly, and gladly, I stayed.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

off to Port Vila tomorrow

Just for the day.

I have to visit the Australian High Commission to lodge a passport renewal application.

Leaving early.  Back late.  Big day.

All on my own!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Yumi stadi long buk ya Mak - 5

Blong dowlaodem stadi ya (faev pej evriwan):

  • Klik long raet saed blong maos long pej ya antap. Nao klik long toktok ya "download linked file" mo bae stadi ya i download i go long komputa blong yu.
  • Narafala rod: yu prestem "command" mo klik long pej ya antap mo bae stadi ya i open long wan niufala pej long internet browser blong yu, mo afta yu save "save" o "print".

Thursday, 23 February 2012

another good reason to live in Vanuatu

Tonight's dinner.

Poulet. ~$5/kg

I'm becoming a dab hand at scaling and filleting. And I can gut, at a pinch.