Friday, December 30, 2011


It feels like I've just blinked and this year is nearly over.  After all that has happened, how will I remember 2011?

There really is only one word that can describe this year:


I remember a few years back I caught up with an acquaintance and asked her how she'd been going.  She shrugged and told me she and her family were just plodding along.  That meant that life was neither thrilling nor depressing.  It was just ordinary.

For me, 2011 has been a year of two steps forward, one step back.  This has been frustrating, but it has also been a blessing.  In a year of losing a loved one, illness, house renovations, and adjusting to life in another small town, I have been grateful that the end of this year has been better than the last.  At least now our house has more or less been fixed and I am in reasonably good health.  I lowered my expectations this year.  I stopped putting pressure on myself to build relationships too quickly and was content to slowly get involved in the community.  I learnt and I am still learning to say 'no'.

But other relationships have been hard.  I have lost some of my passion for things like group Bible study.  I am over feeling left out and having everyone in the group talk non-stop about babies and ask me if I'm pregnant yet.  Although I need lots of time alone to recharge for social occasions, at times I have felt lonely...really lonely.  Part of the reason I have struggled in the latter half of the year is that I work in an office all by myself and there are very few people who drop in.  When I signed the contract, I assumed my boss would be working in the office with me.  Later I found out that she'd always intended to keep working from home.  Working alone all day probably sounds like bliss to mums with small children, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

One good thing about this year is that I finally feel some peace where lopsided friendships are concerned.  I have dropped the ball with some people - not in a nasty, vengeful sort of way, but I feel silly initiating contact and inviting people only to hear a list of excuses or nothing at all.  As a friend of mine once said, "If you email the same person a few times and they don't ever reply, you start to feel like you're talking to yourself!"  I'm not really much of a phone person anyway (I prefer email or letters) and there are only a small handful of people I ring, so don't be offended if you don't hear from me via the phone (I do appreciate people ringing though, I just don't like ringing people in case I've got them at a bad time, and then I feel terrible about it).  If some people decide they want to keep in touch again, I'm more than happy to reciprocate, but I'm over busting my gut trying.  I think I finally have started to move on and have raised the white flag and surrendered.  It's funny that I've done almost a complete turnaround since I wrote this post.  I still get annoyed at people who tell me they want to visit, but I know they never will.  But I no longer feel the desire to corner people and batter them over the head with my diary trying to book them in to visit.  If they want to visit, they know they're more than welcome to contact us and suggest a weekend, but the ball is firmly in their court.

Despite being thrilled that my house looks like a house and not a construction zone, I feel like I am ready to move on (I know, I keep telling myself, "You just moved a year ago!  Are you insane?!?").  I don't belong here, but I know that on this earth no place will truly feel like home, and I will feel like an alien and a stranger wherever we are.  I'm also feeling a lot more robust (I even thought I could clean my entire house and fix up my garden in one day - craziness that resulted in me crashing into bed, having failed in this enormous and ridiculous task).  Despite this readyness to leave, I want to make the most of this time.  All places will have their positives and negatives.  I'm getting a strong feeling from God that our time here is in preparation for something, but I don't want to be too presumptuous about what He might be doing.  More on that later.

Even though parts of this year have been difficult, I think plodding can be a positive experience.  Christians are told to keep running the race, but that doesn't mean life is a sprint.  The race is more like a marathon; it's not about speed, it's about whether you keep going.  Each time I feel like I'm falling, God picks me up and keeps me pressing on.  All Christians have 'walking through the desert' times.  It might feel like two steps forward, one step back, but in the end, I am still moving forward.

Although a change of year doesn't make everything peachy, I have lots to look forward to in 2012 and lots to be grateful for.  See you next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Better Days by Pete Murray

2011 has had its highs.  Unfortunately it has also had its lows.  While I would label this year as 'especially challenging' rather than 'bad', it's true that I've also seen better days.  But it's also true that I have learnt many valuable things that I would not trade.  Pete Murray captures it so perfectly.

I saw it coming.
I saw emptiness and tragedy,
And I felt like running,
So far away,
But then I knew I had to stay.
And I know when I'm older,
I'll look back and I'll still feel the pain.
I know I'll be stronger and I know I'll be fine,
For the rest of my days.

I've seen better days.
Put my face in my hands.
Get down on my knees and I pray to God,
Hope he sees me through to the end.

I noticed most things, but I didn't notice the change.
It was hot in the morning,
Then it turned so cold towards the end of the day,
And there's no condensation,
I felt like I was in space,
I needed my friends there, I just turned around,
They were gone without a trace.

Now I have just started, and I won't be done 'til the end.
There's nothing I have lost,
That was once placed upon the palm of my hands,
And all of these hard times,
Have faded 'round the bend,
Now that I'm wiser, I cannot wait,
'Til I can help my friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness

I felt it would be an appropriate time to review The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester since December is a busy time for Christians.  As I contemplate how to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God, I have found this book to be extremely helpful in how to use my time well.

Do you say 'yes' to requests when you really mean to say 'no'?

If you're busy because of the following:
"I need to prove myself"
"Otherwise things get out of control"
"I like the pressure/money"

At the root of our 'slavery' lie serious misunderstandings, often reinforced by our culture.  If we want to be free, then we need to counteract them with God's Word.  It's important to manage our time, but more important to manage our hearts.

Tim Chester actually lists a number of comments he collected from people in his church in the UK that he thought readers may be able to relate to.  These are the dilemmas I especially wrestle with:
  • How can I balance time between work, friends and church?
  • Why do Christians seem busier than non-Christians?
  • I always seem to take on too much.
This book is not about successful tips for time management.  There is a chapter devoted to using time effectively, but the book is mostly about our hearts.  It will be no use trying to implement time management strategies if we don't recognise why we're so busy in the first place.  The book goes deep into why busyness is such a status in our society and how if you don't answer, "Busy," when someone asks, "How are you?" then you feel like you're a slacker.

Here are a number of things I learnt from the book:
  • The busyness problem is NOT temporary unless we really do something about it.  I'm always tempted to think that the period of busyness will soon be over and then I can relax.  But the diary then fills up like any other time.  To get out of the busyness trap, we need to make deliberate choices.
  • The right attitude to work and leisure is NOT 'work is good and leisure is bad', nor is it 'leisure is good and work is bad.'  We know many people who 'work for the weekend'.  Duncan once bought a shirt and noticed later that it had a tiny label on the pocket that said 'Working for the Weekend'.  He asked me to remove it.  The Bible commends both hard work AND rest.
  • Binge resting is not the pattern which God established.  Our society works 48 weeks per year and takes four weeks off.  But this is not restful as the period leading up to holidays is often the most stressful (oh yes!) and annual leave is not sufficient to recover from months and months of workaholism.  Besides it is only the rich and middle class who can afford luxurious overseas trips.
  • Work, is all about the glory of God.  We work and rest for God's glory.  The Sabbath was established to remember what God has done.
  • The Bible tells us to number our days, not manage our minutes.  Busyness can destroy relationships.  Some people even use the busyness excuse to avoid relationships.  Don't try and squeeze all you can out of life - just do what is most important.  Jesus did not do everything - He did what God gave Him to do.  Faithfulness - not how much we have done.  Church activities may need to be downsized or pruned to make room for genuine relationships and discipleship.
One thing that really encouraged me was seeing ALL of our work - no matter how menial it looks - as an opportunity to glorify God.  It's not about squeezing more 'ministry' into our everyday lives.  Often we see visiting the sick as a more 'holy' thing than working in an office.  And visiting the sick IS important.  But Jesus conducted His ministry in homes, during meals and on journeys.  Work tasks like photocopying can be an occasion for prayer.  Chester criticises the popularity of Christian retreats in Chapter 5 by arguing that it is 'bourgeois modern spirituality for middle-class people with the time and money to get away from it all' (pages 61-2).  God is not found more in the quiet of the country than in your workplace.  I'm not sure if I agree entirely as occasions of slipping away from the crowds like Jesus did can be very helpful.

There is one very challenging section on children.  Although it is not relevant to myself and Duncan at this time in our lives, we constantly hear about the importance of 'family time' out here which usually means spending time as a family doing cute and fun things like going to the movies or eating dessert.  Chester rebukes couples who use children as an excuse for not putting the kingdom first ("It wouldn't be fair on the children.").   Here's what he says on page 59:
I shocked someone recently by asking them to name one occasion on which Jesus speaks positively about families.  Every time Jesus talks about families He sees them as competing for our loyalty to Him and His community.
....Whatever we say about ourselves, our true values come to the surface in our aspirations for our children.  Do you hope your children will be comfortable and well-paid?  Or do you hope they will be be radical, risk-taking gospel workers?....What does family time actually mean?  Watching the television, eating Big Macs, trips to the shopping centre?  What values do these reinforce?  What about making the service of others what unites us as families?  What about weekly times when the whole family does something together for the good of others?

Challenging words to be keep in mind for the future!

Overall, this is a book I really recommend (other than the Bible) for every Western, busy Christian.  Reading it won't suddenly make you less busy, but it might help you see more clearly why you are so busy (and don't use the excuse that you are too busy to read it...haha).  I saw that I am busy because of my need for approval from others (rather than remembering that God is my master), the need to prove myself (when God is already well pleased with me because of Jesus), and because I like to be in control (rather than trusting God in life's ups and downs).

If you hurt your knee and it gets infected (your busyness gets out of control), you can cover it with a Bandaid (time management skills), but ultimately it won't get rid of the infection (time management won't change our hearts).

Jean from In All Honesty wrote a helpful series on this book and the subject of busyness here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

We did it!  Our first Christmas as hosts and I think we passed the test!  While it was a wonderful day filled with great joy, I am now quite tired.  Kudos to those with big families who do stacks of cooking, cleaning and washing up EVERY DAY!

A few days before Christmas, I created and submitted my entry for the Women Bible Life nativity challenge.  I didn't win, but it was a lot of fun!

My old childhood toys enjoyed the opportunity to star in such an important scene.
The angel was a fairy with a dress made out of tissues.
Starring Barbie as Mary, Ken as Joseph, a fairy doll as baby Jesus...and a whole lot of computerised sheep.

Bert and Ernie got to be shepherds.

My first foray into the realm of Christmas newsletters.  Hmm I hope my extended family didn't think it was TOO corny.

Then, on Christmas Eve, I got a call from one of the local supermarkets to say I'd won their randomly drawn competition.  Putting my receipts in the box each week paid off!  I now have a brand new microwave. :)

Present opening:

Wow!  For me?

Merry Christmas!

Everybody say, "Christmas!"

My brother, Tim, and I after defeating Duncan and his brother, Clayton, 7-5 in the inaugural tennis match.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm a Side Plate or a Saucer

About two months ago, I had an anxiety attack.  Actually, I had two.  The first was a milder one during a work meeting.  I don't think anyone noticed, but I was struggling with controlling my breathing, my hands were shaking while I was trying to type the minutes, and I felt like just yelling, "SHUT UP!" and running out of the room.  The second was a bit worse and happened two days later at church!  It involved more breathlessness, shaking, clamminess and a feeling of being out of this world.

I've had them before...but not for quite some time.  Sometimes they have been triggered by a stressful situation.  Otherwise they come seemingly out of nowhere and I suddenly can't cope with normal, everyday tasks.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it was my own personal experience of my previous post.  I didn't choose to drop my mask.  I have my pride; why on earth would I want to be seen as weak?  But I found myself in a situation where I didn't have much choice.  At church, people noticed and in this moment of weakness, I received some wonderful care.

I hear a lot of women say that there are different levels of friendship (close friend, casual acquaintance etc) and friends for different reasons and seasons (the friend who loves to party with you, the friend who you discuss literature with, the friend whose shoulder you cry on...).  I agree that we can't be best friends with everyone.  That is not my intention, and even if it was, I'm a seriously limited human being who wouldn't have enough time.  My point in the previous post is that sometimes you can find yourself in situations where the friends who you may WANT to be around you cannot be there, and sometimes if you need help, you need to take a risk and ask.  When I had an anxiety attack at church, none of my close friends were around.  We've been at our church for less than a year, so we're still getting to know people.  But, on that day, two fantastic women came to help me.  One made sure I was alright.  The other laid her hand on my arm and prayed for me.  They didn't say, "Sorry we don't know you very well and this is really uncomfortable for us.  We'll call your close friends for you."  They saw a need and stepped in.  Both of my relationships with these women have deepened a bit as a result.  One suffers from anxiety attacks herself so I guess she can relate.  Sometimes our friendships can't always be neatly compartmentalised.  And when we're willing to put ourselves out there, wonderful things can happen.

I have found the latter half of 2011 to be a bit of a rough ride.  After feeling like I was getting somewhere by the middle of the year, I have realised that that no matter what is happening in life, I need Jesus...more than anything...all of the time.  Things started to go a bit pear-shaped when I went from doing admin work at home to working in an office in town again.  I struggled in ways I never thought I would.  Coupled with a very busy October full of event organisation for work (which I hate with a passion), it was all too much.  I have enjoyed November and December far more as everything has gone back to a more slower pace.

This has made me realise something...I don't have a very big life 'plate'.  I cope better with a smaller plate of one or two things, rather than a large plate crammed with everything imaginable.  Some women are dinner plates.  They thrive on busyness and having their fingers in many pies.  I'm a side plate or a saucer.

For a long time I've felt ashamed of my 'side plate or saucerness'.  Women are very good at being discouraging by making busyness and suffering some kind of status.  What?  You're finding life hard?  I have 10 children and run all of the ladies/kids/hospitality ministries at church, plus I work part-time outside the home and I'm president of the P&C, soccer club, tennis club....  My life is HARDER than YOURS.

I'm a side plate or a saucer.  That doesn't mean I want to be a slacker.  I just want to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Friend Who'll Just Scream With You

If you didn't know it already, I'm a big fan of Packed to the Rafters.  Season 4 ended a while ago now, but there was one episode that really got me thinking.  It involves the nature of friendships.

I had been watching the development of Julie's new friendship with Donna with great interest.  After initially getting off to less than a good start, the two middle-aged women were starting to bond.  But the turning point really came when Julie received a phone call from a rather distressed-sounding Donna, asking if she could come over early in the morning.  Julie was puzzled, but went and was starting to realise that some of Donna's behaviour was quite bizarre.  It was then that Donna confessed to suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I think this is true for many adult friendships.  We meet many people we get on well with at surface level.  But there comes a time when the friendships are put to the test.  Will the friends go deeper and share more of themselves, and be willing to ask for help if needed?  Or will they remain at superficial chit-chat level and revolve around fun activities?

Friendships often mirror dating relationships in many ways.  On the few first dates, both parties are usually trying to impress each other.  Charm is employed.  Weaknesses are hidden.  There is a lot of 'sussing each other out'.

But as the dates go on, one party is going to have to make a move.  They are going to have to drop their mask.  They are going to have to risk exposing more of themselves.  Otherwise, they might have met their potential mate but have the relationship never go any further.

Donna took that risk.  She knew she needed a good friend to help her, and she suspected that Julie might be that friend.  She dropped her mask.  After the initial shock, Julie responded by being a good friend to Donna.  Her efforts to help Donna manage her OCD culminated in a hilarious scene in a park where she showed that sometimes the best way to cope is just to let out a huge scream...right the front of many onlookers.  Julie put herself out there for her friend.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that you shouldn't expose yourself emotionally too early in a friendship in case you scare your new friend away.  There is meant to be a period of shallow acquaintance-level conversation before more deeper topics are broached.  Donna acknowledged this in the episode by saying, "I know we haven't been friends for very long..."  When I moved here, I felt the same.  I knew I had to go through the casual "How are you?...I'm ok" type conversations and that was what made me feel so weary.  I was down, I'd just lost my Nan, our house was a mess, it was my second big move in 2.5 years...I didn't feel like conversations that didn't have a point.  I just wanted to find someone here who I could be honest with straight away.

My prayer is that we will drop our masks and foster environments that encourage others to do the same.  And I pray that I will be the kind of friend who'll just stop and scream with my friend when they're going through hard times.

Image is from:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What!  You too?  I thought I was the only one."
- C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree...O Christmas Tree

I'm very excited to show you....

Our very first Christmas tree! (Just thought I'd let Meredith know that I definitely didn't put it up in September - I waited until the 1st December hehe.)

We couldn't have a big tree in Buntine because of the size of our cottage.  Then when we moved here, Duncan's workmate and his wife gave us their old tree because they were buying a new one.

So pretty!   I know, I know, it's not the real meaning of Christmas, but you have to does look a bit nice. :)

Although we have big Christmas tree, the little Christmas tree I had still deserves to be on display so it has its place of honour on the mantlepiece.

Oh and we're hosting Christmas this year - our first time ever.  Both families are coming to us.  Just our immediate families though - my parents and my brother, and Duncan's parents and his brother.  After doing pretty much nothing for Christmas last year because of the move, I have really got into the swing of it this year.  I've done my very limited present shopping, the tree is up, and most of the Christmas cards (I bought some from Matthias Media) are done.  I decided YES in regards to Christmas cards, but just to my extended family, family friends, those who gave us cards, and those who don't have the internet.  I even wrote a very brief Christmas newsletter and now I'm planning to enter Cathy's nativity challenge.  I think I might have to make all of this stuff bi-yearly though - it's a bit tiring.  But after praying about it, I felt God telling me this would be a way to bless others and point them towards the real meaning of Christmas.

What are your plans for Christmas Day?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Calling All Theoblogians #11

Here's a thorny issue to ponder...

Can you be a Christian and believe in evolution?

Firstly, I'd better be clear on what I mean by 'evolution'.

I don't mean the kind of evolution that says humans came from apes.  I don't know anyone who claims to be a Christian and believes that.  I mean natural selection kind of evolution, survival of the fittest, and so on.  There are a growing number of Christians from the evangelical Anglican circles I used to mix in in Perth that don't believe in a literal six (24 hour) day creation.  There is no dispute that God created or could create in six 24 hour days, but they believe the word 'day' in Genesis means 'a period of time'.  They believe the earth is millions of years old, and not thousands which is the claim of Genesis.  I also get a sense of 'we are educated, scientifically-minded people who have moved past that idea that the earth was created in a literal week' attitude as if they think those who believe otherwise might as well believe in fairytales.  They think that believing in an old earth is no barrier to being a Christian.  These opinions have been voiced by a few people, but in no way reflect everyone.

Recently I read two books on this subject:

Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati has the tagline A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of 'Progressive Creationism' (Billions of Years), As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross.  It is, as its name suggests, a response to another book written by Hugh Ross, who claims to be a Christian, yet believes the earth is billions of years old and has written a book about why he believes this to be the case.  The hardest thing about reading a book which is essentially a review of another book is that I haven't read the original book.  Therefore, I can only go on the bits of Ross' book which Sarfati quotes.  I probably should go and read Ross' book, but if it's as 'sciency' as Refuting Compromise, it won't be likely.  I found Refuting Compromise to be a painful read.  I didn't enjoy at all, but I persevered because I wanted to see if the book contained any 'gems' of wisdom.  It does, here and there, but most of it went waaay over my head, and I ended up skipping or skimreading a fair few chapters.  I felt I could have said what he said in about a quarter of the size of the book, but I also suspect this book isn't really aimed at someone like me (who has a very non-science mind).  Thank God for the chapter summary at the end which you'd probably understand more than reading the actual book if you have a mind like mine.  I've given the book away since I doubt I'll ever pick it up again, and Duncan has said he's not interested in reading it.  However, it's probably a really good book to read if you are into sciency stuff and can understand it

On the whole, I found The Essence of Darwinism by Kirsten Birkett to be a much more helpful read (I have read it before, but that was nine years ago).  Not only is it short (142 pages), but it makes scientific theories much more accessible to someone like me.  Basically it can be summarised in a few points:
  • What is known as 'Darwinism' today isn't actually Charles Darwin's theory at all.  His theory has evolved over the years and there is considerable disagreement between scientists.  Evolutionary theory is not a proven fact the way many schools teach it to be.
  • The evolutionary debate is always religious.  Why can't it ever be neutral without religion being an issue?  Because it involves us...people...our origins.  If we have evolved by chance, then there isn't really any meaning of life, and humans are no different from the rest of the animals.  Without God, humans are not special.  There is no morality.  We don't make sense without God.  Debates about evolutionary theory are never just about the theory - they are always within a framework.  Some of those who believe strongly in evolution are also staunch atheists.
  • Genesis is not so much about the 'how' (the mechanics of creation), but the 'why'.  Genesis explains why God created us, who God is and how we should relate to Him.
While the book is mostly very helpful, I think it falls down in a few places and I found those places quite alarming.  While it is true that what matters most is the 'why' and not the 'how' and that Genesis does not say EXACTLY how God created, the 'how' still matters somewhat.  On page 127, Birkett says, We cannot say a priori that God made His creation work in this way or that way.  It may seem bizarre, even uncomfortable, to us that God developed humans from apes.  What of it?  Other people find it uncomfortable that God might have created humans instantaneously with no intermediate steps.  What we find uncomfortable or not is hardly the issue.  We do not and cannot dictate how God has worked.  But how can any Christian say that God MIGHT have created humans from apes when it is clear from Genesis that He didn't:
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7).
There were also a number of her arguments in the Epilogue: What About Genesis? that I didn't agree with (get a copy and read for yourself).

I've never been a big fan of 'creation ministries'.  I think it is one of those topics that people like to get on their soapbox about (like baptism, the Lord's Supper or end times), but can distract Christians from the clear command and importance of spreading the gospel.  For this reason, I don't want to subscribe to Creation Magazine, nor do I appreciate people telling me I need to read it as if I'm a lesser caste of Christian if I don't.
But in recent times I've come to see that such ministries have a place and I certainly don't wish to discourage them.  I can see that the creation account may be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith and apologetics in this area can play a vital role.  But I think some Christians need to be careful in that they don't become TOO focused on this area and start arguments all the time.

Why are many people so quick to trust carbon dating, yet doubt Genesis?  One 'sciency' friend of ours has said that if people believe science is true, then they are completely missing the point of science.  Science is a theory, not a fact, and that theory continues to evolve.  Science needs to be reinterpreted by Scripture, not the other way round.

I don't think Genesis is meant to be read in the same way as an apocalyptic book such as Daniel or Revelation which have different meanings for the word 'day' (i.e. the 1335 days in Daniel).  Genesis is a narrative and, despite the opening chapter being very poetic, there is no reason to doubt that the word 'day' does not mean a literal 24 hour day.  After all, it says there was evening, and there was morning, the 'x' day.  Sarfati argues that the Hebrew word yom is what is used for the word day in Genesis. This means an ordinary day (sunrise to sunset). The Fourth Commandment for Sabbath rest makes no sense unless the days of the working week were the same as those of creation week.

I've also come to see that if you fiddle with Genesis, the rest of the Bible starts to cascade.  If Genesis needs to be reinterpreted to fit with science, then which other parts of the Bible need to be as well?  I'm wondering if the need to doubt the literal six day creation is coming from a desire to 'fit in' with non Christian friends rather any scientific 'proof'.  We don't want to to look like weirdos for believing something that seems so ludicrous to the rest of the world.  We want our friends to come to know Jesus so badly that we often compromise what the Bible says and water it down to make it more palatable to them.  The trouble is, if people doubt that all of Genesis is true, what does that say about their claim that the Bible is inerrant?


Any other books you recommend on this topic?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Techy Stuff

Until a little while ago, I had this Blogger profile picture which displayed on my own blog and when I left comments on other blogs:

But then a few months ago, I did a very silly thing.  I went into Picasa and wondered why there were so many copies of this photo in the album.  So I deleted some of them.

Nooooo, Sarah, NOOOOOO! Bad, bad decision!

After this, I noticed when I commented on some blogs, my profile picture was replaced by this horrible looking image:

Then Blogger Help provided the answer:

In short, DON'T delete anything from your Picasa Web Albums.  Even if it looks there are 50 copies of the same photo.  Don't touch it.

I ended up changing my profile pic to one of my favourite photos of all time - the jumping, action shot. :)

So now this picture will display with my comments.  BUT it still doesn't fix the comments I've left on other blogs in the past.  They still have the ugly exclamation mark.

I thought I'd mention this in case anyone was experiencing the same problem....or was considering deleting photos from Picasa.

Oh, and something's gone wrong with my header picture.  I looked at my blog on one computer and the header picture had shrunk by half.  But then I looked at it on another computer and it seemed relatively normal, except maybe a bit smaller.  There have been stacks of bloggers reporting this in Blogger Help, but, although Blogger says it's a 'known problem', they haven't mentioned a fix for it yet.

Could you please do me a favour?

Could you please look at my blog and tell me if the header picture looks 'normal' to you?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Graeme's Rags and Riches 50th

We headed over to Bridgetown on the last weekend in November for Duncan's workmate Graeme's 50th birthday (Graeme did most of the work on our house).  The theme was 'rags and riches' which meant you could come rich, or you could come poor, or you could come rich AND poor (there were a lot of men wearing nice shirts and ties with ragged, dirty jeans).  I chose to interpret it as 'poor who became rich' (see below).  It was a great night around the fire with some rocking good tunes.  We chose to stay the night in our tent.

Rags in 2010.  Riches in 2011.  Oh yeah!

Duncan chose to come as...his boss!  Cheeky!

The birthday boy and his cake
Speech time
Adam all wrapped up in a Wiggles rug
Caitlin and two of the farm kids
The farm crew

The next morning, Graeme took us on a tour of his farm, starting with the cows

Graeme's maremma which protects his goats

One of the bulls and the maremma

It was an honour to meet Frosty, Graeme's favourite bull

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lesson Learned in 2011

Do not buy cheap underwear.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pre-Teens Want 'Revenge' on Bad Friends

Researchers asked a group of 267 pre-teen boys and girls about how they would feel in 16 hypothetical situations, which included friends telling their secrets to other children, friends not completing their part of a group assignment and friends not reacting compassionately to personal tragedies, such as the death of a pet.

Both sexes were just as likely to want to verbally attack the friend, threaten to end the friendship, or seek revenge against the friend.

But when it came to emotions, girls were far more affected by a disappointing friend than boys, reporting they would feel more anger and sadness.

Girls were also more likely to view the friend's transgression as a sign the pal didn't care about them.

Very interesting article indeed.  I remember the pre-teen years.  Girls can be bitchy.  In regards to girls feeling let down by their friends who don't seem to care....I feel like that now!  It's definitely not just a pre-teen thing.

Read the rest of the article here:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Quote of the Day

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
- Oprah Winfrey

Friday, December 02, 2011

5 Thoughts on The Slap

Well, everybody else seems to be talking about this series so I thought I should share my 5c worth (it's gonna be a bit more than 2c haha).

1.  The characters are all extremely unlikable and from various conversations and blog posts, I can tell I'm not the only one to think this.  Rosie was the one who probably annoyed me the most with her 'I let my child run wild' style of parenting.  I was furious when Connie made up the lie that Hector raped her and didn't even apologise to Richie when he went in to bat for her and got in trouble over it....grrr.  I couldn't stand Koula, especially when she complains about Australia (well, go back to Greece then) and calls Aisha 'the black one' behind her back.  Harry is a bastard.  His wife, Sandi...well...why on earth does she stay with him?!?  I love character studies.  It's a sign of a good series where you get so engrossed you feel something towards the characters.

2.  But while the characters are generally horrible people, I think they reflect ourselves more than we'd like to admit.  People have been commenting on how lewd and crude the characters are, but that's what happens when you see people up close and personal, and unfortunately that's how people talk these days (come and live in a country town where, with some people, every second word is a swear word).  At first, it just looks like a normal bunch of people getting together for a barbecue, but The Slap takes you below the surface.  I have to confess that I saw bits of myself in some of the characters.  I've felt the tension between the choice of marriage/family or career.  I can remember what it feels like to be a teenage girl liking an older guy.  While some people were horrified at The Slap, I think it's a confronting but fairly accurate portrayal of the world we live in.

3.  The acting was brilliant.  William McInnes' narration was really unneccessary.  At times it felt like I was a fly on the wall eavesdropping on conversations, the dialogue was that natural.  The little boy who plays Hugo is outstanding for his age.  They picked some absolutely brilliant child actors.

4.  I think this series shows the impact that different stages of life can have on friendships - those who have kids and those who don't, and also parents who have different 'parenting strategies'.  I fully expect kids to be little turds at times, but it annoys me when parents make no effort to correct their behaviour in other people's houses (read: my house).  I was talking to a friend who is a mum to two young boys today and she was recalling an incident a few days ago when she invited lots of mums and kids over to her house.  Two of the kids (who were siblings) started trashing her house (and I mean trashing it) - climbing up bookcases and getting bubble blowing stuff out and then throwing it on the floor so there was a slippery mess everywhere; picking up ornaments, throwing them and breaking them etc.  My friend tried to gently ask the mum to get her kids to stop (since there is a rule you can't discipline someone else's child), but the mum just sat there as if nothing was happening.  My friend said she was fine with it if it was just toys everywhere or something, but it took her and her mother-in-law hours to clean up the mess.  In regards to The Slap, I don't blame Hugo for his behaviour since he had clearly had very few boundaries set for him in his life!  The scene where Hugo spits on the old man and then Rosie blames everyone else for his behaviour disgusted me.  Ok, I get that you're not supposed to have a go at parents, but seriously....even my friends who have kids themselves expect visitors to show some respect for their property and other people.

5.  I think this series will be really good for Australian TV.  It shows that you don't need a big budget to tell a compelling story.  Yay that it has already been sold overseas.

Image is from

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely by P!nk

I've mentioned before just how relevant I think P!nk's lyrics are - especially when it comes to marriage and relationships.  This is one of those songs (please excuse the swearing though - I think the song would be better without it).

Go away.
Give me a chance to miss you.
Say goodbye,
It'll make me want to kiss you.
I love you so much,
When you're not here,
Watching all the bad shows,
Drinking all of my beer.

I don't believe Adam and Eve,
Spent every ****** day together.
If you give me some room,
There will be room enough for two.

Leave me alone, I'm lonely,
Alone I'm lonely.
I'm tired.
Leave me alone, I'm lonely.
Alone I'm lonely.

I don't wanna wake up with another,
But I don't always wanna wake up with you either.
No, you can't hop into my shower,
All I ask is for one ******* hour.
You taste so sweet,
But I can't eat the same thing everyday.
Cuttin' off the phone.
Leave me the **** alone.
Tomorrow I'll be beggin' you to come home.

Go away.
Come back.
Go away.
Come back.
Why can't I just have it both ways?
Go away.
Come back.
Go away.
Come back.
I wish you knew the difference.
Go away.
Come back.