Saturday, 30 January 2010

a new photo for your fridge?



A new photo for 2010 to help you remember us.

If you'd like one, let me know and I'll send one to you.

camping

By the time I publish this we are already back in Vanuatu, but here are some photos of our camping trip last Monday. It seemed a little ridiculous to me to squeeze in a camping trip on our last night but one in Australia but it did make for a long and good night's sleep being so dark and so quiet (and we had taken a decent mattress!).

We went to "Murphy's Glen", a camping site in the Blue Mountains National Park with access from Woodford. I remember camping there as a child and, unusually, it hasn't changed in 25 years, except for the installation of a long drop. It is a beautiful spot, with exceptionally tall trees for the area, but there is very little flat ground for pitching tents and no water (you must carry everything you need). There is also no cost (also unusual for NP camping spots these days).

The children were incredibly excited and enjoyed putting up tents, exploring and roasting marshmallows, even if it was over a gas burner. We weren't sure of the current fire regulations so decided to play it safe despite a sudden and quick storm while we were preparing dinner. Can you work out what Bethany did after a particularly loud crack of thunder?




Tuesday, 26 January 2010

new dresses from Granny

My Mum made the girls a lovely dress each:



Friday, 22 January 2010

a healthy concept of self: a pair of legs

I saw a great pair of legs last year.

They were the thighs I have always aspired to having. "That's them!" I thought, as they ran out of the surf, glistening in the sunshine.

And in the split second it took for those thoughts to flit through my mind, I felt sick. I almost vomited.

She was only eleven. And she was (and is) sick.

I suddenly realised how warped my sense of body image had become. Why should I, a thirty-four year old mother of three, want to have legs the shape of a sickly eleven-year old? What has gone wrong?

Spurned on by the recent discussion in the media about body image (which I commented on here), I have decided it's time to think seriously about this and to develop a healthy and biblical concept of self; not just the body, but the whole self, because
  • our bodies are only part of who we are and
  • how we think about our selves will impact how will think about our bodies.
And so I offer the above thoughts to show how deeply impacted I have been by what our culture portrays as desirable; and how unrealistic, and unhealthy, my expectations had become.

So please join me as I seek to teach, change and re-orient my thoughts and my eyes onto what is good.

toktok!

This last week I've been busy working on our monthly newsletter (only it's been at least six months since the last one...)

Download it from here.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

some wildlife from Hawks Nest

We spent a week at Hawks Nest just before Christmas with my extended family. Here is some of the wildlife we saw.



We've never seen a koala in the wild before, so this was quite special.



Here is the wildlife I like best, my family, including my Grandad who is now over 90.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran tells the story of Marjan, Bahar and Layla; three Iranian sisters beginning a new life in Ballinacroagh, a small Irish village at the foot of Croagh Patrick. The novel begins with the final preparations for the opening of The Babylonian Cafe, their new venture. Though on their first day, they only have one customer, the exotic smells drifting from this little eatery have a disturbing yet wonderful effect on the sleepy village.

Woven through this poignant tale is the more violent story of their flight from their homeland during the revolution of 1979. These two stories produce much for the sensitive reader to consider, particularly about race, religion and fear. Throughout all, the reader is encouraged to shed prejudice and taste kindness.

I enjoyed every minute of this book and particularly savoured the Persian recipes which appear at the start of each chapter and were made as that chapter unfolded. Mehran truly mixed up a masterpiece.

As much as I loved Pomegranate Soup, I was disappointed with its sequel, Rosewater and Soda Bread, it was rather like being served unsalted porridge after Baklava. There were no recipes in the book and thus that which had made the first so distinctive, and charming, was missing. Mehran attempted to tackle the issue of abortion, but I think she presented both sides of the debate poorly. Sanctity of Life was presented shallowly and she failed to produce sympathy with the young woman concerned (although perhaps I don't understand the nature of Irish catholicism in the 1980s well enough). Prejudice was a major theme, again, but I felt like she was flogging a dead horse. Relationships, particularly romantic ones, was another flavour in the book but she had nothing significant to say, except that there is no particular wisdom anyone can give about anything. To be fair, in this respect, she is simply a product of our age.

The redeeming feature of this book was the lovely Estelle Delmonico who, if one could ever jump into a book, I would love to visit!

Monday, 18 January 2010

check out this toadstool!



We found this specimen half way round the block from our house. I've never seen one so big! To give you an idea of the scale, see the 20c piece in the photo on the left (if you can find it!).

castle in cricket?

Over the weekend, certain persons in the house were working on a cryptic crossword puzzle. It was the puzzle in Friday's SMH set by "DA". One clue, 22-across, read:
"caught yours truly (6)".
In this particular puzzle, the answers to all the across clues shared a theme and so the clues did not contain the usual straight part. As they worked on the puzzle, it became apparent that the theme was cricket with other answers like third man, leg side, short leg, the ashes, etc.

The answer to 22-across seems to be 'castle'. 'c' from caught and 'astle' because the name of the person who created the puzzle (yours truly) is David Astle. The S and the L match with other answers in the grid (unsure about C). However, we are all puzzled as to how this is a cricketing term.

One suggestions went like this;
the 'castle' is when the captain comes in to bat but he doesn't want to face so is permitted to swap with the batsman at the other end, the move thus protecting the most important player in the team.

So, here are my questions.
  1. Are we right? Is the answer castle?
  2. Can you explain how is it a cricketing term?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

missing Harry

Here's another photo and Sophie, Bethany and Matthew with their cousin, Harry (taken before Christmas). Miriam and Mike in the background.

what we did yesterday

Here we are waiting at the station.



Here comes the train...






...it was a long journey,



but eventually we arrived at Circular Quay,



and found a spot out of the rain for morning tea.





We were quite taken with the harbour.



We walked around The Rocks for a while and found our way up Argyle street and thence up Argyle stairs.



At the top of the Argyle stairs, we crossed the road and went up the Bridge stairs. We went right to the top, only to find ourselves faced with an awful lot of traffic. We retreated down some stairs and found the right path (along a green fence). Finally we began our walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.



We enjoyed great views all the way along. Here we are at the middle point of the bridge.





We made it all the way to Milson's Point and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park under the pylons.



There was a great little playground where the children played after lunch.





They were getting tired!



After this we walked down to the wharf outside Luna Park. We watched a few rides (and felt sick) and then caught the ferry back to circular quay. We had to hurry to catch a train in order to make the next connection back up the mountains.

It was a lovely outing. Bethany had requested the walk across the Harbour Bridge and they have all been begging for a train ride. It was good weather and not harried, so lots of time for talking. It wasn't expensive as we only had to pay for the train and ferry tickets - you only have to pay for one child. Maybe in a few years we'll add in a few rides at Luna Park!

Friday, 15 January 2010

guess what we did today

here's a clue:

gluttony

A dear friend of mine suggested here that gluttony is a largely unaddressed issue in our churches, particularly for women.
I know there have been times in my life when food has consumed way more thought space than it ought, and never thinking of it as a spiritual problem, have never sought God's help in overcoming it.
What about you? What do you think?
  • Is gluttony an issue for us?
  • How is it caught up with the issue of body image and vanity?
  • Have you struggled with how you think about food?
  • How do you know if it is becoming an idol for you?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

TV shows we've watched

Here's a list of TV shows that we've watched and enjoyed (on DVD) over the last few years.



Any suggestions for the year ahead?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

farewell

We said farewell today to Mike and Katie and family as they left for Tanzania.

We have been very grateful for the time we have been able to spend with them over Christmas. We will continue to miss them... more so now that they will be so much further away now.

Here is a photo of our children together, with their other cousin, Jack.


Miriam, Sophie, Samuel, Harry, Matthew, Bethany and Jack.

Monday, 11 January 2010

it's not about the image

I'm finding the furore surrounding the recent cover of marie claire magazine this last week (which I'm only just catching up with now) absolutely fascinating.

In an effort to raise money for the butterfly foundation which supports Australians with eating disorders, marie claire published a nude cover photo of Jennifer Hawkins. The photo and subsequent article were supposed to help women develop positive body image about themselves, because they would see that even super-models aren't perfect.

There is an article here by Melinda Tankard Reist which summarises many of the issues (without any of the pics!), another here (with the pics) which mentions efforts the government has been making to deal with the issue of body image.

There's been a lot of ink spilt about body image. But it wasn't until I read this article by Lisa Pryor in the SMH that I felt someone was moving in the right direction. She says,
"Perhaps the better way to better mental health among young women is to shift the focus away from the image of the body, negative or otherwise, towards thinking more about the capacities and sensations of the body - achievements through sport; the pleasure of touch; the potential for reproduction; achievements of the mind."
Pryor is pointing out that it's not about the image. But if it isn't about image, what is it about? Pryor makes a list, an interestingly, it's still about the body. This is helpful, but I still don't think it's the whole picture.

In this article in the SMH, Clem Bastow makes a similar point and makes a different list;
"It's imperative that women stop defining ourselves by our body shape. There are simply more important things to worry about - pay issues, maternity leave and sexual violence spring to mind - and better things to celebrate, such as our minds, hearts and work."
Again, these are helpful things to consider. We are more than the way we look; we think, feel and work. But again, I still think it is incomplete.

So, here-forth I am going to continue thinking and writing about what constitutes a healthy concept of self, particularly as a Christian, and how we ought to think about our bodies.

Another series begins... I am really going to need your input if it is ever going to be finished.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

We're back

We've had a wonderful three weeks. We've been away with my family in Hawks Nest. We had Christmas in Dubbo with Glen's brother & family and then two weeks in Griffith with Glen's parents, his brother & family joining us for the second week.

Now we're back in the Blue Mountians staying with my Mum and Dad for a few weeks before we return to Vanuatu.