Saturday, 22 December 2007

nativity creativity

We have had more fun with pipe cleaners as we continued making our nativity scene.

Here are our shepherds.  We tried to make them a bit more 'earthy' and so used brown and cream coloured beads.  (So much for the coloured pipe cleaners!)

And here is Joseph and Mary.

We also made some wise men.  We discussed how we don't really know how many there were but we know about the gifts and so we usually have three wise men because there were three gifts.  "No, there were four, Mum.  Gold, myrrh, frank - and - cents."  So we had four wise men to carry four gifts.  

We also have had fun telling the story with our pipe-cleaner puppets.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Choir of Angels

We have been inspired by some decorations a friend made with her children and today made our own. Find out about the simple decoration here and see my friend's variation here. We made angels and then hung them from a couple of bamboo skewers to make a simple mobile, or a 'choir of angels' as part of the nativity scene that we intend to make. We hung them under a light and they sparkled beautifully.

Sophie, like my friend's daughter, also insisted on making 'Mary' and Bethany insisted on making a baby John the Baptist!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Orientation Day

Sophie begins school next year and today we went to an "Orientation Day" for her school. We have enrolled her in the Sydney Distance Education Primary School. Today we visited their offices, located on the premises of Stanmore Primary School. We met her teacher and another family with a child beginning kindergarten next year. We toured the "school" and were really impressed with their resources. We are now a lot more confident about supervising her schooling next year. She will receive a package of work every fortnight and will return work every week. She will have about three hours of work each day, and we will have the flexibility to do those hours when it suits us. Sounds great!

We were not 'teary eyed' and the prospect of her first days at school because we'll be doing them with her. She is really ready for school and very excited about it.

We're still not exactly sure of the details. Here are some questions we need to work through. I will do most of the 'teaching' but Glen would like to be involved too, so how will we share this role? What about Matthew? (Bethany will have Talua Kindy for three hours each morning). Would it be good for Sophie to still go to Talua Kindy for part of the day? Should we include other children if they turn up? How? Despite all these questions, and others of which we haven't yet thought, we are looking forward to it.

Sophie's teacher took a photo of the two of them, and I hope to have a copy to post soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

First Impressions

Returning to Australia is always an interesting experience.

The airport is always confronting. Before even passing through customs or collecting bags, I seem to enter a shopping centre. Flashy, glitzy, luxury items. Not only is this overwhelming, it is really confusing. I am not sure where to go. I am not even sure where I am any longer... did I take a wrong turn, what happened to the airport?? The difference between village life in Vanuatu is extraordinary. Welcome to Sydney.

Well, it is freezing! I've been wearing a turtle-neck jumper all day, and my fluffy slippers! We had to teach Sophie how to use a doona (and you didn't even know there was anything to know). Welcome to Summer.

The internet is amazing! It is so fast. Pages load instantly, in full. Where has all the white space gone? Welcome to Surfing!


Yesterday morning was our last morning in Vanuatu (we are in Australia for Christmas). By breakfast time we hadn't heard anything from Sophie and were wondering where she had disappeared to. We thought perhaps she had gone outside to play, or perhaps she was with my cousin, Jessica, who was staying with us. Then Jessica appeared, alone, and we asked where Sophie was. She said, "She's in the kitchen. It looks like she feel asleep while having a midnight snack." And so it did.

She was lying on the kitchen floor fast asleep wearing only her undies (too hot for pyjamas). The was a paw-paw with a neat slice cut out of it and a sharp knife lying on the floor next to her. The paw-paw had been in a basket hanging from the ceiling and in order to reach it she had climbed up the drawers onto the bench, walked around the benches to the reach the basket, taken out the paw-paw and climbed down. She had thoughtfully scraped the paw-paw seeds onto a small plate, but left the skin lying on the floor. And this all by the light of a small lantern she had remembered to bring with her as she couldn't just turn on a light (no electricity). She had also poured herself a drink from the water container (also on the floor next to her) filled with rain-water (we cannot drink the tap water).

She hadn't eaten anything all day Saturday, complaining of sickness, and then had vomited earlier in the night. This of course meant that she was starving hungry and so she took matters into her own hands.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Operation Christmas Child

Many of our friends have been involved in filling shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I thought it might be interesting to hear from 'the other side'. We had a team from Samaritan's Purse come to stay at Talua to distribute boxes to children in villages around where we live in South Santo.

The overwhelming response was one of joy. The children were delighted to receive the gifts and parents were grateful. One story I heard was of a mother, who picking up a washer that had come from her child's box, said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you had not come, this washer is all she would get for Christmas, but now she has a lovely gift. Thank-you."

The team that came on behalf of Samaritans purse were from Mueller College in Brisbane. I don't know all the details, but I think that everywhere they went they also gave a presentation about the gift of Jesus at Christmas. I'm really glad about this, because I think that otherwise instead of spreading the Joy of Christmas we may just be spreading greed and materialism, and setting expectations that cannot be met in the future.

One of the girls at Talua received a box for a girl aged 10-14 (she was 12) and inside there was a pair of size 10 thongs, which actually fit a 3 year old, my three year old as it happens, as the girl gave them to Bethany. So this gave me something to think about. Was it right for my child, who is not really who people are thinking about when they fill a box, to benefit like this? After all, she will receive many gifts at Christmas. But I think that it was really kind of this girl to give them to Bethany and it was great that she was in a position not just to receive but also to give. Bethany loves the thongs and has been wearing them ever since.

After this, as the team was leaving, they left boxes for the children at Talua who hadn't received them when they had been distributed at their school. Sophie and Bethany were included. This left us with another dilemma. Should we let them have the boxes? It was one thing being given something by another child, it was another to receive a whole box. It didn't mean another child had missed out, but they are definitely not who you thought about when you packed your box. And they definitely won't miss out at Christmas.

We decided to give them each a box. We explained what Operation Christmas Child was all about and told them that they were to look after their boxes and then give them to a child who came to Talua next year, who would not have received a box (there are many islands on Vanuatu and the team did not go to all of them!). There were a number of different responses to this decision (at least three, which is interesting for only two children!), including some tears, and it gave us a chance to talk about greed and generosity at a time when these concepts were not abstract but being felt very keenly.

Now it remains to keep learning these lessons myself!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Christmas Meme

I've been tagged (by Nicole) to do this "Christmas Meme". Being new
the the blogosphere, I'm not entirely sure what this means. So I've
answered all the questions but I've no idea what 'meme' means. Do you?

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper. I'm hoping that the girls and I will make some this year. I once saw someone making great christmas paper from waxed kitchen paper . They took one sheet and sprinkled it with all kinds of decorations, then put a second sheet on top and ironed (low heat) them together. We're going to try that.

2. Real tree or artificial? We usually spend a lot of time at my parents over Christmas. We always have a real tree there.

3. When do you put up your tree? The day after school breaks up for the holidays. My parents are both teachers; it is the first thing they do in the holidays.

4. When do you take the tree down? We follow the tradition of leaving it up for the twelve days of Christmas, which according to my Dad, begins on Christmas day. So we take it down on about the 5th of 6th of January.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don't even know what eggnog is. It sounds like bobbing for apples!

6. Favourite gift received as a child? There are three that stand out; a rag doll my Mum made for me, a bicycle and a trampoline.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? We made one last year and hope to do so again this year.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother in law.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My Dad.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Every now and again our relations would 'forget' how old we were and we'd get presents really appropriate for people a few years younger. I remember one particular dress which I thought very unsuitable. However, I did wear it as a nightie for years, so as far as 'worst' gifts go, it wasn't too bad.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards???

12. Favorite Christmas movie? Movies???

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When we get back to Australia. This year on the 16th.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't remember. I wouldn't put it past me.

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Things we can't get in Vanuatu. Stone fruit. Cheeses. Lamb.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Coloured.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Joy to the World

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay with Family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? It varies from year to year. Last year Sophie made an angel with her Grandma and we used that.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Always Christmas day, but not always in the morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The lights.

23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? Playing charades on Christmas Eve.

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Fake snow on the roofs of houses in hot, dry, dusty Australia.

25. Which looks the best, theme trees or homey trees? Green ones.

26. What does Christmas mean to you? I think Nicole summed it up well, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself".