Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Car Day

Yesterday was a Car Day. For the uninitiated, that was a day spent primarily in getting myself and at least two kids in and out of the car and driving all over Perth - mostly back and forth, but sometimes in circles. FYI, here's my list of pit stops:

8:30am Drop Josh, Anna and Lisa to school.
9:00am Meet Jeff, Abi and Sam at a friend's house for morning tea with them.
10:00am Doctor appointment to get my stitches out and an asthma script for the trip. (Abi and Sam with me.)
Then home to pick up the things Josh and Lisa forgot to pack for school.
11:15am Drop off items to Josh and Lisa's teachers, Pick up Anna from school.
11:45am Anna's dentist appointment. She needed two fillings. I am a bad mother.
Then Drop Anna back to school (she preferred going back to school over lying on the couch for the afternoon watching a DVD of her choice. I gave her the option. She said she'd cry if she couldn't go back to school. Amazing child!) When Anna asks for a drink of water in the car, I lean over to reach Sam's drink bottle and my shirt rips all down the back. The shirt that I spent half an hour sewing buttons onto two evenings ago. Drat. But I know what is next in the car day after I drop Anna off at school, so I chuckle and pray briefly, Father God, thank you so much for afternoon naps for toddlers. I love them. Especially when they force a break in the middle of a Car Day.
Then stop at the shops to buy some fruit for Abi and Sam's lunch since we have run out.
PAUSE in Car Day. Home for lunch, to change my shirt, for Sam's nap, for Abi's homeschooling lessons, and for my Bible study time. My BSF discussion learer rings me while I am in the middle of my Bible study, and I have a laugh with her over the shirt ripping incident.
4:30pm Collect Josh, Anna and Lisa from after school Italian lessons.
4:45pm Drop Josh, Anna and Lisa home.
5:02pm Miss the Medicare office being open for my refund by 2 minutes. Drat.
Then while still at the shopping centre, swap a faulty purchase at the Target front desk, and briefly peruse shoe shops, looking for something without heels to wear in the US. Nada. Drat.
5:45pm Home for the evening. Kids are having a water gun fight in the front yard with Jeff. Relax.

It is days like this that remind me so thoroughly that everything I do - what little it is - I do in the power and strength of Christ. Psalm 42:11 puts my feelings this day very clearly:

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

The same verse is also in Psalm 42:5 and 43:11, so the Psalmist must have needed to remind himself of this a lot, just like me.

Yesterday, that time I spent reading my Bible at the dinner table while Sam napped and Abi quietly played in another room was like a balm to my soul. It also brought some laughter. One of the questions from my BSF study notes for John 4:1-30 read, "Jesus uses symbolism in verse 13 when He speaks of this water (the water of the earth). Give examples of things for which people thirst that, while not bad in themselves, cannot satisfy their desires."

I started answering this with some specifics:
caffeine, fat, sugar;
sexual passion or the adoring emotional attachment of another person;
having a clean and tidy house;
having perfectly well-behaved children;
rhetorical skill;
having read many of the "Great Books"...
The last thing on my list was "having all the buttons sewn on your shirt". You can see where the laughter came in.

But the truth is, none of these things can satisfy. Even a Car Day that goes rather smoothly by all accounts is no substitute for the new life that is only found through a relationship God in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Do you have that relationship with God in Jesus?

Monday, 29 March 2010

USA Holiday Itinerary

Just the basics of our plans...

Fly in to Los Angeles
Death Valley
Las Vegas
Hoover Dam
Grand Canyon
Navajo National Monument
Monument Valley
Santa Fe
Dodge City
Kansas City
More Wichita
Salt Lake City
Olympic National Park (yes, including Forks)
Fort Vancouver
San Francisco
Los Angeles
Fly home from Los Angeles

Only a week to go before we fly out now. One suitcase is packed already. We are definitely counting down.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A reading list for our holiday

Since Jeff and I will be spending many hours on the road over our five weeks in the US, and even I don't think I could come up with enough topics to talk on for the entire 8-9000km journey, we've put together a book list for the trip. I'll read, Jeff'll drive. We may not be able to read our way through everything - after all, I want to see the scenery, not just pages - but we're going to see how we go. Here are some of our selections to read together:

The Cross-Centred Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by CJ Mahaney

Living the Cross-Centred Life by CJ Mahaney

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard

The Travels by Marco Polo

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (on audiobook)

How to Be a People Helper by Gary R Collins

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp (yes, we never got too far into it before)

Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


As of the last few days, we have a new (temporary) member of our family. Her name is Lisa, and she is my niece. We call her Lovely Lisa. You can see why from this picture:Lisa is living with us for Sunday evenings through to Friday afternoons, and going to the same away-school as Joshua and Anna during the weekdays. She will be with us for the next four months or so. The astute of you will realise that we will have a hard time looking after Lisa while we are in the US! During that time Carla will be looking after the whole family here, or Lisa will be looked after along with our four here by Grandma and Grandad. When we get back from the US, we'll take over the week-day parenting again.

Lisa is staying with us because her mother is in the later months of pregnancy with Lisa's little brother. Because Carla has been diagnosed with Lupus as well as Thalassemia, she needs greater medical care than can be provided in the rural gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie, where my brother's family normally live. So Carla has moved with their younger daughter Rebecca to her father's house near Freo, and we are looking after Lisa here. Lisa is the same age as Abigail, so we have a lot of chatting after bedtime with three girls sharing the same bedroom!

Please pray:
for Lisa, that she will not miss her mother, sister and father too much, and will feel "at home" here with us.
for Daryl my brother, that he won't be too lonely without his family back in Kal.
for Carla, that our nephew will be growing strong and healthy within her, and that the docs here will be able to treat her well.
for Rebecca, that she won't miss her Daddy and sister too much, and will love her time with Nono.
That Grandma and Grandad will be safe on the roads as they drive across Australia to look after their grandchildren for several weeks.

Last night, we had another guest in the house as well. It was Cuddly Koala, a toy from school that Anna brought home overnight.Yesterday afternoon, after one of the driest summers on record, (only one day of rain before yesterday - 0.2mm on 7 Feb), Perth experienced a marvellous thunderstorm, which resulted in many of our roads becoming temporary rivers. The evening news said that Perth metro had received at least 36mm of rain since around 3:30pm, when the storm hit the northern suburbs. Our friends the B family had about 50 holes in their pagola from hail the size of golf balls, and their garage flooded. By around 5:45pm, there were 150,000 houses or businesses in Perth without power, though ours was not among them.

The rain hit in earnest just before 5pm where we live, and we didn't get any hail. But with a Play Room that is not sealed well from the weather, we had almost as much rain inside as there was outside! God managed to keep our two couches dry, but the Play Room had to be "evacuated". The carpet and recliner are now drying out nicely (we hope), since not only is the roof permeable to strong rain, but the floor is extremely permeable as well (really, the floor is just outdoor pavers on sand, with no sealing at all - it's not exactly a "to code" extension) so we don't have any puddles. The canal next door was the highest we have ever seen it as well, but this morning it is back down. Here's how Anna described the events in Cuddly Koala's journal:I went home with Anna.
There was a big storm.
I was scared, but Anna saved me.
She kept me dry so that I
wouldn't get wet, when the
Play Room flooded with water.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Update on Abigail's homeschooling

From Abi's lessons today:

Since today is a Wednesday, Abi's penmanship task was based on the Bible story she heard today in her BSF class. (Oh - How I am going to miss BSF next term! I have been attending for almost 5 years!) Each day Abi does penmanship, she traces one sentence, or roughly two lines. Very occasionally she asks to do the writing as copywork and I let her, but I am discovering she has no idea about letter sizing. She needs a lot more practice from tracework before she goes off on her own.

Abigail copied the most marvellous letter from a book the other day. Unfortunately she had already sealed it up in an envelope to be posted before I had time to photocopy it. The inspiration for that was watching Anna at work writing letters. Abigail loves writing mostly because she sees Anna love writing, I think. I only wish she would learn enthusiasm for reading the same way!

Abi's favourite part of her homeschooling lessons is the maths. We are using the Singaporean program Earlybird Mathematics and, having finished 1B, Abigail is now working through 2A. At the moment she is doing one "Lesson" (that is, roughly a week's worth of work) each day we sit down together. But we don't do homeschooling lessons every day, so it has taken three weeks to get through the first nine lessons of the book. That is still moving at three times the standard pace. Abigail is really enjoying the lessons on measurement that we are doing at the moment and keeps asking to do more, but I am learning that one "Lesson" worth of material is enough, otherwise her brain gets too crowded and she can no longer concentrate on the rest of her studies.I made some number cards for Abigail which she lines up in order each lesson. She uses them to remind herself what each numeral looks like before she writes it, if she cannot remember. This has helped with Abi's number recognition, which is already fairly good given I only started teaching her about numerals this year. Abigail seems to get her numerals consistently the correct way around, which is encouraging to me since her elder siblings both reversed them sometimes (and still do occasionally). Abigail seems to have taken to the concept of numerals well, and perhaps better than either of her elder siblings. This is balanced by her struggle to recognise individual letters, however.

Today was the last day Abi has spent of at term of World Geography. I read her a little bit of information each day about various features of the world, and she stuck the relevant stickers in the appropriate places on the world map. Granny found this make-your-own-map atlas for us, and Abigail has enjoyed it. I am not sure how much she can remember, but at least she is now familiar with the names of the continents and oceans.

This geography study has also given me a great opportunity to talk with Abi about our (ie, Jeff's and my) upcoming holiday to the USA, and to mention some of the things we will see - or not - while we are there. Personally, I am hoping that we will miss out on seeing rattlesnakes, although their sticker sits smack in the middle of the places we intend to visit! I hope to post a basic itinerary in the near future, and I will be posting on the blog each day of our holiday (God willing!) so that our kids can keep track of where we are and what we are doing. So keep an eye out here if you are interested! We shall be leaving Perth on Easter Monday, 2010.

Monday, 15 March 2010


Jeff and I watched Fireproof together on Saturday, which my blogging buddy Amy recommended to me maybe over a year ago now. We finally borrowed a copy from a friend and sat down to watch it together.Fireproof is a realistic movie. It tells the story of Mr Holt Snr's dare to his son Caleb to spend 40 days loving his wife deliberately, in a determined effort to save his marriage from divorce. I appreciated the way that it doesn't shy away from the realities of what causes holes to form in marriage relationships. I also liked the clear demonstration that there is always shared responsibility on both sides, even if one person seems to be more "in the wrong". It was great to see how one person's choice to act lovingly can make a difference to a marriage that seems doomed for divorce, even if the other person wants "out".

One of the best things about the movie was the way Mr Holt Snr explained to his son Caleb that God's loving kindness for him had been rejected in just the same way that Caleb's wife was rejecting Caleb's love. What more could Caleb do? Well, what more did God do? God's Son Jesus died for Caleb (and for us). It was a very clear application of the fact that marriage is one way that God teaches us about the relationship between Christ and the Church, and between the Father and the Son.

May God make my marriage - and yours - a glorious example of these mysteries of God to others.

[Image from]

Friday, 12 March 2010

"Diagram of a Baden" (aka Bayden)

By Joshua, in the half hour before lights out at bedtime:His spelling may be appalling and he may frequently get letters around the wrong way, but I'm impressed Joshua can write this much in half an hour after a long, hard, hot day at school. And I am impressed that he can spell "diagram" correctly, even if he can't spell "with".

Translation, for those who cannot decode Joshua's spelling:
"Diagram of a Baden.
A Bayden is a human eater.
Its favourite food is a monster.
The eye is a light and a thing
that is an thing that it can
see with. The bag has every
weapon in the whole wide world.
It is very strong.

Labels, clockwise around figure:
Eye which is a light
Weapon bag

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A Lego Poem

For my sons, Joshua and Samuel.

There was a little Rock Monster
Way down in a mine,
He went for a walk one day
Some crystals to find.

But instead of some crystals,
The Rock Monster found:
A Power Miner digging
Deep down in the ground.

The Power Miner gasped
“You gave me a scare!”
The Rock Monster told him
“I just hoped you’d share.”

The Power Miner thought
“I know I should be kind.
And I have extra crystals
So I really don’t mind.”

The Rock Monster said politely,
“Thank you very much.”
Then he took the crystals home
And ate them for lunch!

Mm-mm. Tasty!

by Sharon Jackson, 2010