Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It was not exactly a forgiving time or place. Mary had conceived out of wedlock. She could have been stoned to death for it. Folks would have agreed that this was the 'right' thing to do with such a harlot. But Joseph turns around and decides to marry her anyway. That I think, would have been like saying the kid was his. Very few people would have doubted that they'd got up to mischief. Big no-no. Really, really, really big trouble. Lots of gossip. Lots of friends and family who would choose overnight to no longer recognise you. Anguished parents, humiliated, wondering what they'd done wrong in raising these two. Probably a lot of anger, possibly being yelled at and spat on. Mary and Joseph came from a small town. They would have known everyone and everyone would have known them. Suddenly, their reputations, and through them, the reputations of their families, were in tatters. Then they had to go to Bethlehem, right when the baby was due because some beaucrat decided to count all the people. So they took a dangerous, long journey. There weren't any other options. You simply didn't stand there and argue with the Romans. You'd be dead if you did. Probably after your wife was raped and your home burnt to the ground. So they went to Bethlehem to be turfed out by all the rest of their relatives. I wonder if the inn keeper who gave them the stable did so secretly. Did his wife approve? Was there a loud argument about harbouring such sinners? Did he do so out of guilt, seeing how tired and worried Mary and Joseph were? I wonder how differently the town of Bethlehem and Joseph's relatives would have reacted if they knew this was the Messiah they had all been waiting for. I wonder if they would have been so harsh, so condeming. This was Jesus' arrival into the world. I don't think things really got any better for him after that either. While the gossip would have died down over time, no one in the family would have ever really forgot his shameful beginning. He would have lived with whispers and taunts his whole life, and with the realisation that his very existence caused his parents incredible heartache and grief. I do wonder if Mary might have wished for another life, in living to see her son die brutally on a cross. We think of her as blessed, chosen by God. And she was. But I imagine that living the chosen life was neither easy, nor happy-go-lucky. It must have been incredibly hard.
So these have been my thoughts this Christmas. I am grateful that Jesus came. I am grateful that I can know God. But I am saddened that he, and those he loved and who loved him, had to go through so much for me to have this opportunity.
Wednesday, 29th December 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Today's word is:
I just love the sound of it. Impish. As in, imp. It basically means mischevious. And another word with similar meaning and just as great a sound: rascally. Apparently impish can also mean "naughtily or annoyingly playful" (freedictionary.com).
I wonder if my son is impish? He does sometimes get one of those looks. You know, the sort that makes you wonder what crazy idea is brewing in the cogwheels of the mind. His daddy is impish. Although, to be honest, to me it seems like the word is more fitting for a kid, or a fairy or something equally smaller than average, not a grown man. That's just what impish makes me think of. Small and mischevious. But impish Boyo is. Yesterday he tried to trick me into thinking that we don't have any spending money left for the month. He held up the spending bag (currently a clear plastic, zip lock bag, labelled) stating there was only $4 or something in there. Of course I then wanted to know what we'd done with all the rest, and what he was doing with his other hand (behind his back). He pulled the hand out, still claiming that there was no more money, but then upon further scrutiny from me, bent down and picked up $10 off the floor. Then $50, then all the rest of the spending money (our spending money is meant to cover all sundry expenses during a month that does not fall under our main budget headings, so while we use it to buy hot chips or things equally yummy, it also gets used to buy cough medicine, extra bibs for Munchkin, and any other household items we need that I can't fit in the grocery budget). It appears that my rascally husband had carefully dropped most of the spending money on the floor out of my sight before claiming we didn't have any left. The only problem was that he is terrible at keeping a straight face, so of course I did know that something was up, just not where he'd put it all! Rascally is a good word for him!
Wednesday, 22nd December, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
We have the tree up, and some lights. I will have to take a few photos sometime. For the first time ever, we've had to remember to put the Christmas tree up HIGH, due to a certain small person who joined our family this year and his delight in eating anything he can reach. We have two stockings up. Munchkin doesn't have one yet. I guess I had better make one for him between now and next Christmas as he will be old enough by then to ferrit around in one. My stocking was made by my mum when I was little. It is felt, and has an apple tree and an A on it (for Amy, just in case you were wondering). Andrew has one that we made as family Christmas presents a few years back. Yellow, with a black star on it.
A small nativity scene sits on the china cabinet by the front door.
We will be making Jesus' birthday cake later this week, most likely on Thursday. It is a mocha fruit and chocolate cake, so easy to make and delicious, delicious, delicious...a perfect choice for Christmas I think. I only ever make it at Christmas, to keep it special. I don't imagine there will be candles on it this year. Maybe next year, as that part is really for Munchkin.
We do have a bit of last minute shopping to do. I forgot that I need custard powder to make the trifle. So Boyo will pick that and some potatoes and kumara up from the supermarket later this week when he is working (he works at a supermarket so it is convenient to give him a list instead of having to go myself). And there's the gifts. We don't give Christmas gifts to each other. Well, we're not meant to at any rate. A few usually do manage to sneak in each year. We give a small gift to our immediate families, and these have been all organised and sent, which I am rather chuffed about. But we still plan on heading out to Dollar Value or the Warehouse to get a few small things. These are to go in our Christmas Child boxes, to get them started for the year.
So what are we doing for Christmas?
We will have lunch with my parents Christmas Eve. We usually have a meal with them most Fridays anyway, just moved this to lunchtime as it means we don't have to rush off to get Munchy into bed. Boyo's parents visited last week and delivered their Christmas presents which are sitting under the tree (unopened still, which is unusual for us - we are not really big on opening on the day and often open any presents early...I guess that might change now we have a child?). We generally don't spend Christmas with our extended family. We decided when we got married that we'd like to focus on our family unit at Christmas, and avoid all the mad travel and stress associated with big family Christmas Day do's. We do try to see family around this time though (just not on the day), and like to have celebrations with them at other times of the year, such as birthdays. This is part of our trying to keep things simple and low stress at Christmas, I guess - not travelling much, not having loads of food or presents, etc. But in saying all that, I do want our kids to grow up experiencing the joy of Christmas, tingling with anticipation and delight, having traditions they can hang onto, and being surrounded by love and fun at Christmas. I just don't want it to be all about getting and getting and getting, and eating and eating and eating. We probably do enough of that throughout the year, without needing to go overboard at Christmas.
On Christmas Day, our menu consists of roast chicken, roast veges and salad, followed by trifle (Boyo's favourite). We also have some dip and chips, the Christmas cake, and hopefully some fresh cherries if my mum manages to get to the market later in the week. I think that will more than amply provide enough food for us to stuff ourselves to overflowing. Boyo was a little shocked when I told him that he can help with the sponge cake for the trifle and making the Christmas cake. I gather I am getting more feisty and demanding as I approach my 30s! I figure that there's no sign on my head designating me as sole preparer of all things Christmas, and that if the family wants to celebrate, then the family should be involved in the work. Besides, part of the fun should be preparing for it together.
Other than eating, our plans include wrapping some shoe boxes. This is our family tradition. Instead of gifts for each other, we are focusing on gifts for people who have less than us at Christmas. The shoe boxes head off into the Pacific Islands to kids who have most often never received a single gift before in their lives. I love doing these boxes, but they are collected in October each year, so I wasn't sure how we could incorporate them into Christmas. So what we are doing is we wrap some shoe boxes on Christmas Day together as a family. Then we pop a few little gifts in each box, to get them started for the year. Each box receives a number of little gifts, which I usually collect on sale through the year, so this is a good way to enjoy giving and the festive spirit, but still have the boxes ready at the right time of year. I wonder what we will buy? Skipping ropes, tennis balls, soaps, hats....should be quite a bit of fun choosing things. Usually I get them on my own during the year when I'm doing our grocery shopping, so it will be really nice to go out as a family and choose some gifts.
We will read the Christmas story too, I think. After all, that's the whole point of the day from our perspective, that God chose to send his son so we could be friends with God.
So that's our Christmas in a nutshell. What special family traditions do you have?
Monday, 19th December, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I guess we are all too busy. I keep forgetting that it is the end of the year, and that Christmas is nearly here. I am the least busy I have been all year, you see. I have finished study for the year. And we have a simple Christmas planned, without much shopping or preparation involved at all. So I forget that for most people there's the kids presents to get and wrap and such, and the family gatherings to prepare for. And to top it all off, in the Southern Hemisphere, there's the countless end of year gatherings, and family summer holidays to plan. It is our summer holidays you see. School has just finished for the year. Kids get six weeks or so of summer freedom, and it just seems like everything combines into one big, mad rush. So it is understandable that there's not much interest in taking photos of taps for people we've never met. Maybe I will try again in February, after all the holiday hype is over? How bizzare is that - we are too busy because of Christmas! Christmas, of all things.
Sunday, 19th December, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Munchkin started rolling last week. He is now a proficient roller. I leave him in one position, turn around to do something, turn back, and he is in a different position. Usually gazing at me with a smug expression of delight. This evening I realised that we need to do some baby proofing. Immediately. I had thought we might get as much as another month, as it's not like the kid is crawling yet, just rolling. But no, Munchy baby has decided that he quite likes being mobile, thank you all very much. In the course of half an hour, he managed to roll his way off the plastic mat he was on (having nappy free time - help, please do NOT pee on the nice new rental carpet!), and grab his dad's boxers from under the desk, pulling them off the pile of other stuff they were up on (Boyo leaves all his bed time stuff in the lounge on nights he works so that he disturbs my sleep as little as possible when coming to bed). Once the boxers were retrieved, the nappy on and the baby again released, he then proceeded to roll in the opposite direction towards my desk. He missed the chair (narrowly), the potty (kicked it) and grabbed my knitting bag. Opps. Sharp objects. Not such a great play thing. I gave him my wooly hat instead, also from under my desk. Do you get the feeling that we are somewhat short on storage space around here?? When redirected back towards the middle of the room, Munchkin then found his trousers hanging on the side of the couch and pulled them off for closer investigation (read: putting in the mouth). He is now happily sitting surrounded by pillows with a container of toys between his legs, trusty wooden spoon in his mouth, gladwrap roll and chilled teether handily nearby. His first tooth poked through this morning. Now the question is: where are we going to put all this stuff that has lived on the floor until now?!? And just how high up are we going to need to put it?! Hmmm...
Saturday, 18th December, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Thursday, 16th December, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
So what I was getting to with all this, as that as I fed him dinner, I thought about this very careful process of introduction to solids. The way I'm trying to introduce him to varied tastes and textures. And the varied nutritional value each food provides. Banana gives potassium. Silverbeet has good iron. Each food offers him something special, and that is why we are encouraged to give babies a range of foods, even when they are little and just starting out like this.
I thought about other families in the world, and found myself wondering what babies in Africa or India eat. I realised how blessed Munchkin really is. He gets to have all these different foods. So many babies of his age would be having just one. Rice, maybe? Or corn? I'm not sure. I just know that for so many mothers around the world, meal times is not a matter of choosing what to feed baby, but rather wondering if there IS anything to feed baby.
The World Food Programme identifies the first 2 years of a person's life as critical in terms of nutrition. I've read in some of my Child Development paper this past year that nutritional deficiencies in infancy and toddlerhood contribute quite a lot to a child's future growth, in terms of physical size, but also in terms of their ability to relate to others, manage emotions, perform mental tasks...the list is phenomenal - basically, early nutrition sets the stage for a child's later abilities in all areas of life. I had no idea it was so crucial. I'd not thought about whether nutrition could affect a child's brain capabilities, their grades in school or their socialisation skills, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. Our bodies are highly complex organisms. They are incredibly adaptable. Amazingly so. Just look at the ability of the brain to compensate for damage to parts of itself. But the body can only adapt so far. It relies heavily on receiving the fuel it needs to function.
In all this thought process, I find myself more aware. Firstly, more aware that Munchkin has dietary needs and that he is very much relient on me. My knowledge of food. My eating habits. These all greatly influence how he will treat food. I can't expect him to eat well if I am not providing a good eating example. I can't hope he avoids lollies and chocolate and all that, if I eat it in front of him constantly. I can't expect him to be able to make good food choices if he is constantly presented with salty, faty or sugary foods...of course he is going to want to eat those, they taste so good (after all, our bodies are hard wired for these foods - not God's fault that we happened to create a whole lot of them!).
Secondly, I find myself more aware that food is in many ways a luxury. It is a luxury that far too many people cannot afford. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma of having to decide which of my family will eat or not eat today (something I think many mothers do have to choose on a daily basis). And I can't imagine being able to give my baby only one food, and precious little of that. And hope that somehow that one food will provide him with everything he needs to grow into a strong, healthy boy when I know full well it can't possibly do that. I can't imagine not seeing those funny faces as he tries something new. Seeing his wide open, gaping mouth waiting for some more banana or apple, and his slightly shocked, questioning look when he tasted silverbeet for the first time (what on earth is this, Mum, and are you really sure it is meant to be eaten?!?!).
Well, my baby has managed to roll himself off his plastic mat several times while I have been typing. I think it might be time for a nappy and his apple and pear. He will, no doubt, sit there with mouth wide open, arms waving madly, gulping each delicious mouthful. And I will think about how blessed we are to eat today. Opps, there he goes again...carpet, carpet, carpet, please do not pee on the nice new rental carpet! Better run.
Wednesday, 15th December, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Friday, 10th December, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Tuesday, 2nd November, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Ready to go!
And now, on to next year's boxes. Hmm, maybe not quite yet. I'm doing donations for the postage on these ones for a bit. But I do have a stash of 6 boxes, waiting to be wrapped on Christmas Day, ready for filling next year.
Amy - Shoebox Wrapper Extraordinaire!
Sunday, 31st October, 2010
Clothes for the girls!
And here we have the toys under 'something to play with'...all purchased at a local Dollar Value store, costing $2 each. I'd like to point out the woven plastic balls. These were advertised as cat toys. They have a little bell inside a ball, inside another ball. I thought they were a fabulous idea for younger kids - imagine throwing around a ball that jingles, rolling it down a hill, using it to hit other balls, and so on. I generally try to get toys that are going to be active, imaginative ones. No batteries allowed due to customs issues anyway. So skipping ropes, marbles, and this year some chess and connect four (instructions are on the back of the little box). I like to get craft things too, such as puppets to make, but find that they often require sizzors and glue. While the recipient might have these items, they equally might not, and I'd hate for them to be unable to play with their gift because of that. So my motto is that it has to be able to be used with just the items in the shoebox. If I can get sizzors in there too, great. Glue is usually a bit problematic as we can't have anything that might leak.
Toys - yay!
Anyway, those are the final items for my shoeboxes this year. What interesting things have you managed to find for your shoeboxes?
Sunday, 31st October, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Before you get carried away thinking that I’m all clucky after having Munchkin, let me just clarify that I have absolutely NO desire to be pregnant or give birth again. Nope, much as I love our little one, I don’t want THAT kind of baby. Now I’ve probably got you wondering if there are in fact more than one kind of baby. There are. And I want one.
Not this kind. At least not now, at any rate. Give me a few years to think about it…
Nope, not this kind either:
No, I want one of these:
Every time I read about the benefits child sponsorship offers to kids, I want to do more. Every time I get a letter from our sponsored kids, I feel the same. And it’s not just what sponsoring does for children, although amazing for sure (clean water, clothes and pencils for school, immunisations, food assistance, schooling, and so on are not to be sneezed at). It goes beyond that. Sponsoring a child tells them that someone (me) somewhere (far, far away in New Zealand) thinks about them. Cares about them. Has decided that their life is worth investing in. Sponsorship tells a child living in desperate poverty that their life matters. It tells them that they can be someone, and help someone, and get somewhere in life. But on top of this incredible difference I get to make in one child’s life, are the differences that spread across their community, and across the generations. For instance, giving girls a chance at an education increases their self esteem, their position in society, and in turn the welfare of their future families as they later invest in the health, education and welbeing of their children. Then there’s the community wells that are dug, the agricultural training that can be accessed, the midwives that are trained, the businesses that can start, and on and on it goes, each benefit flowing outwards to enable more and more and more.
So, I want another sponsored child. The thing is that we already have 3. Most people are somewhat surprised by this. Don’t be. There is just no reason why children should be dying of hunger and water-bourne disease. Not while there’s something I can do about it. Why should I sit back and enjoy my cruisey middle-class, suburban life with my filtered tap water, electricity, and supermarket fare when other’s, through no fault of their own, have nothing? I want a large family. I just don’t plan on them being my birth-kids. I see this as one way I can change the world. One child at a time. One $45 sponsorship a month at a time. One letter wending its way to Tanzania, or Nicaragua, or Bangladesh at a time.
At the moment, I have to wait. Now is not the time. We are living on a student allowance, and managing okay, but there’s not much extra to go round and at present it is going on yet more clothes for the Munchkin. But I don’t want my son to become my excuse for ignoring the plight of others. Yes, he is my first responsibility. Yes, I need to make sure he is fed and clothed and loved. But this shouldn’t become my over-riding pursuit. After all, he is well-cared for. It won’t hurt him to have a few less toys and a few less treats, and to grow up learning that there are other people in the world who don’t get to live with the wonderful things we do.
I’m still hoping that someday soon I can have another baby. I’m wondering if there’s some way I can find that $45 a month…maybe I could make and sell stuff. Yeah, don’t have time to keep my house clean, let alone get out the sewing machine. Maybe we could eat less. Well, that is always an option, but I find that my mind is telling me that I ‘need’ to eat what I eat. Considering how much people eat (or rather don’t eat) and survive on, this is probably something I could debate with my self-centredness. But how much of this is me being selfish though, and how much is to do with our cultural expectations - we grow up surrounded by them, it can be so hard at times to work out how much something is a need, and how much it is an expectation built by what society says is a need. So for eating, if I were to eat less, eat lower quality, or eat different foods than what I do now would that be truly depriving myself of needed nutrients or is it that my society thinks it might? I'm still not sure on this one.
Whose life are you changing? Do you have room in your family for one more?
Saturday, 30th October, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
We have a 'cash' basis for our usual monthly expenses, such as petrol, spending, and groceries. Cash out at the beginning of the month. Once gone, it's gone. What I've done is create a bibs jar that now sits on my desk. After doing the big grocery shop at the beginning of the month, I apportioned $30 into 3 plastic bags, labelled Week 2, Week 3, Week 4. This is our fruit and vege money for each week (it should really be a bit more than that, more like $40, but I'd bought a big bag of apples, another of oranges, and things like kumara, potatoes, etc at the beginning of the month). The idea is that at the end of each week, rather than just putting any leftover money back into groceries and probably spending it on things we don't need, I now put it into the bibs jar. I find that I save so much better when I have a specific, measurable goal like this. I am much more likely to stop and think, "Hang on, this chocolate would be worth 1/2 a bib, which we really need. Maybe I don't need chocolate after all."
I am buying bibs from my friend, Lydia, at Little Kiwis (www.littlekiwis.co.nz). She makes gorgeous kiwi-flavoured baby and kids gear. She custom makes a lot of things, so we have been able to get bibs that have towelling top, bamboo inner for extra absorbancy, and waterproof PUL backing. Last month I managed to get Munchkin 4 bibs (they cost $7 each). They work so much better than the non-backed ones he has, which he manages to dribble and/or sick through in half an hour! So nice that he rarely has sopping wet clothes now. We just need to get a few more than 4, as they still get filthy. Yesterday we were trying to work out why he smelt so bad. Turns out his bib had gone a bit rancid. It didn't even look dirty, but obviously it was! So we obviously need enough bibs to still change them several times a day...plus some bigger ones that cover everything for eating.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sunday, 24th October, 2010
Having a tall baby has challenges all of it's own. These are, of course, heightened (no pun intended!) by my small frame. Munchkin is nearly 9kgs, and my arms do not have any muscle tone to speak of. I am currently developing some by lugging him around. The front pack is rather useful for us, as I am actually unable to carry him for any length of time without him heading ground-wards. Only he is getting too big for that now too. He can't fit it the proper rear-facing way, only forward facing. This is apparently not as good for babies (called 'crotch dangling' - oh, what an elegant term, referring to the fact that they kinda just hang there, whereas facing into you their thighs also take some of the weight). Well, it's just too bad really, as it is several degrees better for him than a sudden landing on the floor. It is also a heck of a lot better on my back than trying to balance him on one hip or the other (never terribly successful).
So we are going to head up to "Zero to Five" and have a look for a good secondhand backpack. We will need it when we head off to Australia in December for a few days. I hate to think what 2 days of airports would do to us otherwise! While I can find it in my heart to wish he would stop growing so fast, I do so love my giraffe!
Sunday, 24th October, 2010
The fabric was leftover from a small blind my mum made years ago. The ribbon was actually part of the gift (a little stash of ribbons, sequins and odd bits for Maxine over at http://kiwimeskreations.blogspot.com/ to use with her cardmaking)...it was just convenient that it matched the fabric so well!
Sunday, 24th October, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I am currently in a shoe-box-wrapping marathon. The finished pile is getting close to the ceiling. Soon I will have the fun part of filling each box with the goodies I've collected throughout the year, before labelling and dropping them into our local collection point. I'll probably do this on Saturday, as I've just realised that Monday is a public holiday so I'm not sure if the business operating as a collection point this year will be open.
I have become an expert shoe-box-wrapper over the years. Is this a marketable skill, do you think??? I am efficient, and very tidy in my wrapping. My finished boxes look really good, and I feel some amount of pride in my accomplishment. Pity I can't add it to my CV. Grin.
Photos will come once I have finished the boxes...focus, Amy, focus. One thing at a time!
Thursday, 21st October, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
We have over 100 plants under the cloche at my parent's place, plus 20 extra runners that I found a home for here in our little garden. Now I just have to get a bit of netting to protect ours from being pilfered by birds. I would like to eat at least some!