Thursday, March 27, 2008

All in a day of homeschooling

It's amazing exactly what trivia get looked into around here.

This story came about because Emma loves the Barbie Princess movies and Logan is a harried older brother who can sometimes stand no more. She owns several and has borrowed the ones she doesn't have. This morning, Logan began listing all the aspects of Barbie movies he absolutely hates, including too many high pitched songs that stick in your head, Barbie's too-good-to-be-true character and predictable plot lines. (For all lovers of Barbie movies, this is only the opinion of Logan and not necessarily that of the blog writer.)

Then he came up with an interesting statement. He said, "The villains have always got moles on their faces, and in my opinion, that's horrible for all the good people with moles who might be watching." Emma couldn't let this statement go unchallenged, so for the next little while, they were digging up all the Barbie movies and freeze-framing close-ups of the villains just to check.

For some time it looked as if Logan's theory would turn out to be true. Lady Rowena, Queen Ariana and King Rothbart each had a mole on their face. Logan and Emma were arguing about whether Gothel, from Rapunzel, had one or not. And then she got the better of him. Preminger, the bad guy from "The Princess and the Pauper," has a smooth complexion. So Emma was pleased.

"He's still pretty ugly though," Logan said.

That started a discussion of whether fairy-tale cartoon villains really need to be ugly. We could only think of one handsome bad guy, and that was Gaston, from Disney's "Beauty & the Beast." We decided that of course he probably did need to be good-looking as well as black hearted, to be a perfect contrast to the beast in every imaginable way. (Of course there is also Snow White's wicked stepmother, who was meant to be 2nd fairest in the land, but the kids don't think she was very attractive anyway.)

Not that long ago, I took Emma to the movies to watch "Enchanted" and have to recommend it as the perfect movie for parents (and even brothers) of little girls who love cartoon princess movies. Although the boys didn't come, I think they'd like the farcical take-offs, so we'll be hiring it when it's available from the video shop. I can't help smiling at times when we go to visit my sister, who only has boys. You can tell a boy, like Logan, who has a sister, because he knows all the names and plots of fairy-tales, even though he says he'd far, far rather not.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Reflections

On Thursday night, I went out for dinner with other homeschooling friends and when it got dark, we watched "The Passion" on TV. What a powerful movie to begin the Easter holiday with. I'm glad Mel Gibson created that movie because it's so worthwhile to see a portrayal of the Crucifixion events as they really must have been, even though they are so incredibly hard to watch. It's a movie that easily makes viewers empathise with different people. Any mother who saw Mary's flashbacks would know just I mean. And Peter's 3 denials were made to seem so natural when we could see the position he was in. Even Judas' story could be quite easily understood, which is perhaps most frightening of all.

In fact, after the movie, my friend said that she'd studied a 'different' sort of take on the actions of Judas. In this theory, Judas continued to believe that Jesus was Messiah as firmly as the others did, but in his impatience to keep things moving, and frustration with what he perceived as Jesus' dilly-dallying, he thought he'd force His hand. Perhaps Judas never intended the Crucifixion to happen at all. He merely expected to influence events so that Jesus, finding Himself backed against a wall, had to assert His majesty and usher in the sort of earthly reign Judas was expecting. We'll never know for sure but, in a way, this possibility of Judas' motives makes it even scarier and more tragic.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from a book written in a memo form that I thought interesting & revealing about the way high-fliers of the 21st century might tend to judge the world.

TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafter's Carpenter Shop, Nazareth
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem.

Dear Sir,
Thank you for submitting the resume of the 12 men you've chosen for managerial positions in your new venture. They've all taken our battery of tests and we've run them through our computer and organised personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings and both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your comptroller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.
Sincerely yours ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

The difference one little word makes

Last week, I got a phone call from my Dad. I've been typing his hand-written genealogy out for him over several months and he'd picked up a few typos for me to fix. One of them was quite funny. It was in a passage about one of his Scottish great, great uncles. The sentence was supposed to say, "He was to live in Dundee until his death, aged 81." I'd accidentally left out the crucial word "to". Dad was laughing as he told me, "You wrote, 'He was live in Dundee until his death, aged 81."'

It got me thinking about other instances I've heard of where one little word was omitted. There is the historical moon-landing quote by Neil Armstrong. I wasn't born until the tail end of 1969, but my brother and sister had a half-day off school, along with all the other children in the country, so they could watch the televised moon walk. It was such a famous, pivotal moment in time but Neil Armstrong possibly bungled it by saying, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Over the years I've read theories that he was supposed to have said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." That small word, "a", makes the sentence much clearer and more meaningful to me, anyway.

That's merely words. I've even seen examples where the lack of a comma or semi-colon has completely changed the whole sense of what the person was trying to say. For example, a feminist author was reported to have written, "A woman without her man is nothing." Only when her readers started scratching their heads and saying, "That doesn't sound like something she'd say," did the magazine editors work out that what should have been written was, "A woman; without her, man is nothing."

And there's this one where something as small as a full stop made all the difference. A renowned theologian in the 1950s (I think it was someone like C.S. Lewis or Henri Nouwen but I can't quite remember) was asked this question in an interview. "Do you really think that God exists?" The theologian replied, "I don't think. I know." But some journalist transcribed it as, "I don't think I know." Now, that's a massive difference!

So I never underestimate the value of a thorough proof-read. Since I've been writing, I've been taught the value of having at least one, preferably two proof-readers. An author needs to do their own proof-reading, of course, but you can't ever rely on your own because you are so close to your own writing, and you've been over and over the same ground in the editing so often before, that your mind automatically glosses over your sentences without picking these little things up.

In fact, I take it so seriously that if somebody was to ask me if I'd proof-read their work, I think I'd hesitate to take up the offer. To me, proof-reading proves that the finesse is really in the little details.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"The Mummy Thing"

I know that many of us declare we'd love to impact the world for good. But like 1000s of other women at home, sometimes our work doesn't seem to cut it. Tidying endless messes, mopping sticky floors, wiping toothpaste smears off mirrors, hanging up clothes, loading dishwashers and reading story books takes so much time and effort but doesn't seem to scratch the surface of the world's needs. In fact, it doesn't seem to do a scrap of good to anyone but us.

What's more, the world often scoffs at it, calling it "The Mummy Thing" and not in a nice, warm manner. Even, "You're worth more than this," and "Your education is wasted" scoffs at the lifestyle of the stay-at-home mum. I've felt it. Sometimes I walk into a shop with the kids and don't seem to be taken seriously by the staff, whereas if I enter the same shop on my own, they all seem more polite. It's easy to feel trivialised.

However, I think it's one of those paradoxical things where each faithful woman's individual efforts meld together to create something huge! Just think, if we all packed up to join the paid workforce full-time, the whole framework of society would collapse. Small children would not be getting the nourishing, tactile reinforcement they need so much to form their own healthy identities. Homes would be haphazard drop-off centres rather the peaceful havens for the heart we can make them. If we stopped doing our "mummy things" results could be catastrophic.

Maybe the illusion that our work isn't touching the heart of the world is because it IS the heart of the world. It's similar to the analogy that the fish cannot see the ocean because of all the water that surrounds him. When we're looking out from the centre of something, we don't seem to have such a great view. Our work can have its repetitive and tedious moments, as we all know well, but so does the work of the physical heart, with one beat after the next, day after day and year after year.

The woman's work on behalf of her home and family is like the heart's work on behalf of the body. It isn't generally seen by the human eye and admired, yet it is the part the upholds all the "showy" bits we do present to the world. Maybe we pray, "Please help me find a way to impact the world," and then get frustrated because our prayer doesn't seem to be getting answered. But maybe it doesn't occur to us often enough that the reason it doesn't seem to be getting answered is because we already are doing our part and more than pulling our weight without even knowing it. Next time I have a sticky spill to clean up, I'll try to remind myself that by getting down on my hands & knees on my own kitchen floor, I really am impacting the world.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Tag: Lists of 4

I was tagged by Vicki (Balderdash & Blokus), and it's an interesting one, so here goes.

4 jobs I've had.
1. Cleaner at a Bed & Breakfast.
2. Creche childcare worker for a "keep fit" club.
3. Labeler of jars at a gourmet foods produce factory.
4. Helped roll chocolate truffles for a small business.
(None of these were full-time jobs, thank goodness, but helped me through Uni.)

4 movies I've watched over & over.
1. Amelie
2. Where the Heart is
3. Stage Beauty
4. Jersey Girl

4 places I've lived.
(This may sound boring, but although I've lived in several different homes, they've all been based in the city of my birth; Adelaide. So this may not mean much to many, but here goes.)
1. Bridgewater
2. West Lakes
3. Stirling
4. Mount Barker

4 TV shows I watch
1. The Biggest Loser
2. Everybody Loves Raymond
3. Friends
4. Mythbusters

4 places I've been
1. Fiji
2. The UK
3. Italy
4. Switzerland
(I was 12 when I visited Fiji and 15 when I took a European trip. I mentioned it to my family just the other day, and my dh said, "I envy you." I had to reply, "I envy myself, too," because although the trip was wonderful back in my teens, I think I'd get even more out of it now, given the same opportunity.)

4 people who email me regularly
I don't think anyone does.

4 favourite foods
1. Salads (I'm a salad girl)
2. Soups (I'm a soup girl)
3. Vegetable Lasagne
4. Stuffed, baked potatoes

4 places I'd rather be
1. The Greek Isles (or any Meditteranean sea port)
2. Italy
3. America
4. The UK

4 Things I look forward to this year
1. Getting at least two of my contemporary romance/drama fictions back into print.
2. My husband's 40th in June.
3. Possibly another family holiday to the Flinders Ranges
4. Easter in 2 weeks time

4 people to tag.
Hey, as I've no idea who's already filled this one out, I'll leave it open. But I wouldn't mind a comment if you decide to do it so I can come and look.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Creative Blues

My Wednesday morning ladies' Bible study has started working through a book on Isaiah. The fifth chapter of Isaiah begins with a song about a vineyard and this was one of our questions.
"Many modern songs are about perceived injustices. Why are these protests often cast in the forms of songs?" As a bit of a joke, I wrote, "Because the artistic/creative people who'd bother writing songs more often seem to be melancholic and prone to the blues." I didn't think that was really what the question was getting at, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd hit on something true.

So many people with a creative bent seem to have fallen prey to the "big black dog" for centuries. Writers, artists, musicians, none are exempt. Vincent van Gogh, Percy & Mary Shelley, Thomas Hardy, Beethoven, Mozart, several 20th century jazz artists my husband admires, even our own Anthony Field, the blue Wiggle. And that's just to name a few. I found myself wondering whether genetic dispositions can account for all creative depressions. It seems that Satan might launch a specific attack against the minds of creative people, and especially Christians, because he knows that these people are capable of doing a lot of damage to his evil cause.

The Bible tells us, "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength." Well, by stripping away our joy and replacing it with his depression, Satan renders us useless.

Imagine how interesting it was to come across something very similar in a book I was browsing through; "The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind" by Bill Johnson. He wrote, "Why do you think there has been such an assault on artists in the Church? Because the enemy wants to separate us from the creative force that thinks outside the box. Those ideas can change the world."

So I guess in a way, even though depression is nasty, we can consider it a compliment in a way and laugh at Satan. Let's never, ever give up on our creative dreams, even when we're attacked by gloomy thoughts, but keep them always burning before us.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gone for longer than expected!

Yes, we were away for longer than I said we would be, which was a great bonus, and then when we got back, my dh had heaps of paper work to do on the computer while I seemed to have a whole lot of other errands. But we had a great, refreshing break and here are some of the photos we took. You'll see that they probably took plenty of the space I would've taken if I'd been blogging regularly throughout February, anyway. It's great to be back on the blog.

Anyway, up there is the beach house we stayed in. It belongs to some friends of ours from church. Out the front is our yellow Holden Commodore.
It's in Point Turton, on the Yorke Peninsula. One of the peninsulas at the bottom of South Australia is shaped like a leg & and foot. This is right on the coast on the top of the foot.

One of my favourite parts of the Peninsula is the National Park area at the very bottom. There is this old ghost town called Inneston, which was inhabited until the 1920s. They were gypsum miners who eventually stopped earning enough money for their product and moved elsewhere. The place was left to run down and we were able to wander about among the old buildings. Here the fireplace, all that remains of one of them. It was an eerie feeling.

But other buildings were still reasonably sound. This was an old general store. I found the plaques and photos quite fascinating to read and see. People were virtually cut off from civilisation. If they wanted to post mail, they had to wait until one of their villagers was going to make a trip to Edithburgh, (further around the coast), and then the post would be delayed until a steamer was heading across the gulf to Adelaide.
We take our lifestyles for granted. But perhaps there were advantages to not having our media pouing out information 24/7, whether we want it or not. Although it definitely had its hardships, this sounds like a relatively peaceful sort of lifestyle. Andrew and I could have spent even longer here, but after awhile the kids were ready to move on.

Back on the road, our timing was good enough to come across this group of wild emus. They were pecking at little berries on the shrubs and bushes that grew there and didn't seem too concerned when our car moved through them.

I got Logan to see if he could lean out of the back window and take a close-up of them, and this is the result. You can see the little berries they were going for. They're such quaint birds, and when they run, they're really fast.

This is a beach with a shipwreck on it. A ship named "The Ethel" was grounded there in the 1800s. Maybe you can just spot a bit of it, that Blake is running back to. But it's surprising how much the ship has disintegrated in the 25 years since my brother and I were climbing on its decks and rushing all over it when we were young. Surely 1983 wasn't all that long ago?
This beach had some massive waves that left even Logan open-mouthed. They were high as walls and just smashed down on the shore, leaving oodles of foam in their wake. And the water, coming straight from the Southern Ocean rather than the Gulf, was freezing. Emma was anxious for a swim but there was no way she could have swum here. However, the sand was that squeaky gold type that you can sink up to your knees in.

Although she wanted a swim, most of the Yorke Peninsula coast is fairly rocky and slimy. More suitable for searching for crabs and sea creatures than it is for swimming. But we did find a few spots.

This beautiful old church is in Moonta, on the upper Yorke Peninsula. It's one of my favourite towns because most of its old buildings are wonderfully old and well-kept, like this. We stopped there for lunch and visited a genuine old miner's house. It's part of what's known as the "copper triange" along with Kadina and Wallaroo, the other two towns that make it up.

Every house has these huge, funny looking t.v. and radio aerials. I don't know if you can get the effect from these photos, but it looked a bit weird and alien-like to us, like "War of the Worlds" or "Day of the Triffids." This is a typical Australian colonial home with its "bull nose" verandah, for shade.

Logan was pleased to see that some of our own South Aussie coastline is pretty spectacular, just like the lower coast of Victoria. "See, those Vics don't have everything." Being a keen Aussie rules football supporter, he participates keenly in the traditional rivalry between the two states which extends to absolutely everything.

There's one of several lighthouses we saw. The coast was speckled with them but they weren't enough to prevent several shipwrecks that also lined the coast.
Anyway, that was our relaxing break and I'm looking forward to catching up with other blogs after such a long absence.