Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas - Behind the Scenes

I've been thinking quite a bit about the Christmas story the past few days and weeks. Specifically, the things it doesn't say. Or rather, the things that we perhaps don't read into it, because we live in a different time and place. I have concluded that when the Bible describes Jesus as a man who understands sorrow, it is very accurate. Just think for a moment about his arrival in the world. Now sure, if he was an average baby he wouldn't remember that he was born in the feeding trough in a cave (the general concensus seems to be that the stable was likely a smelly cave hewn in the side of a hill). But his parents would have been oh, so aware. The Bible doesn't really talk about their reception in Bethlehem, except to say there was no room in the inn. What I think we easily forget is that Joseph was returning to his home town. While he might never have lived there, his family came from there. So it wouldn't have just been any old stranger ungraciously telling a pregnant woman that they didn't have a spare bed. Nope. These were Joseph's relatives. Imagine Great-aunt Gertrude standing there, glaring at you and your exhausted, terrified wife. Think of the humiliation, the shame, and the anger this young couple would have faced in being turned away from home after home by people who should have been looking out for them.

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.

Amy
Wednesday, 29th December 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word for the Week

I have decided that it is well past time we had another word for the week. I've been playing free rice a little bit since stopping study for the year, and am enjoying seeing all these different words. So here we go...

Today's word is:

Impish


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!

Amy
Wednesday, 22nd December, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 4


Another of Munchkin's Favourites. I was actually a bit surprised, as I'd expected him to go for something a bit smaller, but he took one look at his Dolly and fell in love. He loves holding him. He loves looking at him. He loves having him 'bumped' up and down his tummy, or wriggled across his face. Dolly now sits in Munchkin's bed, and gets picked up and played with whenever he wakes up (or doesn't want to go to sleep!). I think part of the allure is the bright colours, and another great feature is that it is so soft and pliable...little fingers can grip hold of the head, the arms, the buttons, pretty much any part of it. I know it is a scarecrow, but we have been calling it Dolly since he got it, so Dolly it still is. After all, boys can have dollys too. Such a good choice of toy from one of the great uncles and aunties!


Amy

Tuesday, 21st December, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is almost here. I thought I would share our preparations for this year.

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?

Amy
Monday, 19th December, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 3


Here's another of Munchkin's favourites...his VERY favourite at present.

This small ball provides all the incentive necessary to learn to roll. He has spent the past few weeks reaching for it, and 'chasing' it across the floor. Being just slightly soft, it allows for easy grabbing by little fingers. He just loves it. I don't even remember where I got it from, except that it would have been a cheapie.

Incidentally, my son decided that he desperately needed to get up an hour early this morning. Despite my reassurances to the contrary. Opps, now he's just managed to pull some of the filing out of the filing tray. I obviously put the highchair too close! After all, paper is so much more interesting than soft toys! Grin. I think it is time for breakfast. Peach, apple, pear and baby rice this morning (we are using up bits and bobs!).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Disappointed

I'm feeling a bit disappointed, really. I had gotten myself all excited thinking about the different tap photos people might send in. And no one has even commented. I even put it on my Facebook page, where it appears to have been ignored. My husband has consoled me, with the sage advice that people are busy and I really shouldn't have expected much. I have been a little rash, perhaps...it has only been a couple of days, so maybe you are all still out there with cameras clicking away? I guess I didn't really expect much, just hoped. It is frustrating, because I can do so little at the moment to help those in desperate need. And I believe it is just so wrong that here in New Zealand (and other developed countries) we have sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much, while others have nothing (and there are great disparities within our own society too, I am not wishing to overlook that, but at least in NZ you can get government assistance to help pay rent and buy food, get your kids to the doctor or into school, etc). So I'm disappointed. I just wanted to make a little difference in someone's life who is facing the desperation of not having a safe water source. I can't even imagine what that must be like. We currently have a broken cold tap in the kitchen. It is waiting repair. It drips constantly, and we have stopped using it, for fear that once we get it on again we might not get it off! So when I want a cold drink, I head into the bathroom and fill up one of our tallest glasses, which I then sit on the dining table and sip from until I need to refill it again. It feels like such a drama. I know it really isn't. It is still purified, drinkable water. I'm not going to get sick from it. It comes from the same place the kitchen stuff does anyway. And it is such a long way to go. Not. I mean, it is all of 10 paces or something. Not like I have to head out with a bucket and hike around our local walkway for half an hour to get a drink. Anyway, I was wanting to do more, without actually doing more myself...because I have limited time and resources, and particularly at the moment, limited money. I figured that if we all did something little, like sending in a tap photo to raise $2 for safe drinking water, that together it would make a much bigger difference than anything I could do on my own.

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.

Amy
Sunday, 19th December, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baby Proofing?!?

I think it might be time.

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...

Amy
Saturday, 18th December, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taps - how many do you have around the place?

I just uploaded 4 photos to Turn on the Tap:










This initiative is run by Samaritan's Purse, to give clean drinking water to some of the many people in the world who do not have it. A sponsor is donating $2 for every tap photo that is uploaded to their website!!! I took the photos months ago, and am pleased to have finally done something with them. This was my decision regarding World Water Day (written about in a previous post months ago!) - I took ages and ages thinking about what to do, way past World Water Day, between multiple assignments and baby commitments, and ended up not doing anything. Which is very slack and not at all suitable, as far as I am concerned. So finally I have done something. It is a very small something really, but even very small somethings can make a world of difference to someone living in extreme poverty.





Could you spare a few minutes, and help change a person's life by taking a few photos of the taps around your place? I am hoping to do some more in the coming week...watch this space. Please let me know in the comments if you've uploaded any, so I can go and check them out! This is where you go: http://turnonthetap.org.au/gallery/recent.php?id=1


If you email me your photos, I can post them here on my blog. I wonder how many we can get? So upload them at Turn on the Tap, then email me a copy at: soonarmy at gmail dot com. How creative can you get? What unusual places might you find a tap around your place? What kind of different photography do you think we could do? I am so excited about this! A patchwork quilt of tap photos, that's what we'll have. And the knowledge that we've helped others while having fun!




Amy





Ps...the thing that amazed me when I was looking for taps to photograph, is just how MANY we have in our 2 bedroom unit. I mean, there's the kitchen taps, the handbasin, the shower, the washing machine, and the laundry tub. Then there's another 2 taps outside that I haven't got photos of yet. I did this once when I lived in North QLD and ended up sending in taps from local parks, rest areas, public bathrooms, etc. I was just blown away by how frequently and easily we can access potable, clean, safe drinking water. We water our lawns with it, for crying out loud. While so many people in the world walk kilometres every day, to collect dirty, disease-ridden water for their family. Because that's all they have available and they don't have the money or resources to change it. I'm so glad organisations like Samaritan's Purse do have the resources, and that they can find the money through such a fun activity like this Tap photography. I'm so looking forward to seeing yours! Grin.



Friday, 17th December, 2010

Cards Galore

I recently joined my mother-in-law on a card purchasing expedition. She gets all her base cardboard for card making once a year, from a local printer. This year I headed in with her. We chose the colours we wanted from what he had available, then the printer cut it all down to A4 for us. Some sheets supplied 9, others 6 per sheet. I am very chuffed with my new stash of card. I use a lot of white card as my card bases, and have found it really hard to get hold of a decent amount of it here. I was tired of buying it in packs of 10 A4 sheets, for exhorbitant prices at local stationery shops. So this has proven to be an excellent solution!


Here is my pile. I managed to stay very focused, and only got the colours I will actually use regularly for my cards. There were some other lovely colours and textures, but I know that I already have lots of coloured paper scraps so really only need the actual 'card' to set everything up on. From experience, these are the colours I will use most. I tend to make simple, layered cards using cut pieces of coloured paper, ribbons, buttons, etc. I did do stamping for a while there, but have reverted back to my youth. This is how I learned to make cards each birthday, following my Mum's example. There is red, navy, black, cream, speckled/tan, and white. Beautiful!


All this cost just $22!!! Now for some time to use some of it! One of my less-urgent/less-important goals for summer is to make at least 20 generic cards, as my thank you/thinking of you/no-name card stash has all but run out. Plus there's a few birthday cards I could work on too...


Amy

Friday, 17th December, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Glicks

And here are photos of the adorably cute Glicks, as we aptly named the Burrowing Frogs before we worked out what they actually are. It is a pity they make such a loud noise...they are incredibly beautiful, I think. I had to very carefully stalk one to find it at all.



Amy
Thursday, 16th December, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Garden Recycling

Here's some more recent garden recycling.

We found a whole bunch of old narrow, concrete blocks in under the trees. So I got Boyo to haul some out for me, and I used them to edge the little vege garden left by the previous tenants. I combined them with some wooden edging I found round the back of the house. The grass likes to make major inroads into the garden every time my back is turned, so I figured edging was the way to go. Of course, being a rental property I didn't want to spend money on something in case I have to 'love it and leave it.' This was a good solution. The materials were already on site, and we just moved them to suit us. There are several other benefits though. I have just this week put some bird netting over our little strawberry patch. The blackbirds were going to town on the strawbs and we were not getting very many. The netting tucks in under the top row of blocks quite nicely, and is still up high enough for the fruit to grow underneath largely undisturbed. I also thought that with the garden edging in, I could build up the soil in this garden. Once again, I've been putting off doing anything because it isn't "mine" and I don't want to expend too much time or money on something that I might not get to keep. Plus there was the issue of overflow onto the lawn...you can only mound things up so far before gravity (and digging birds and/or cats) takes over and it all heads downwards. So I figured that I can now build up the soil with compost and such, and if we do ever have to leave the unit, I can always barrow or bag my lovely compost/topsoil out with me. If I can be bothered at the time. Who knows, I might or might not, but I do like knowing it is an option. So there you have it, garden edging that didn't cost me more than a few hours work, and is helping to make our little garden more productive. Just as an aside, I do find it fascinating seeing what is lurking in the undergrowth in the places we live. In a previous house, in which I thought there was no garden to speak of, I discovered several lots of spring bulbs popping up. I was delighted, as they promptly got used for the floral art course I was taking (doing a floral art course without a flower garden requires some level of creativity, believe me!). In this house, I have found some nice little rose bushes...they are doing much better now I've cleared most of the grass away from them and given them a prune. And I found a little viola growing in the path by the front door. it now adorns a pot instead and seems to be much happier there, if size and flower production are anything to go by. Didn't really find anything interesting in our last place in North QLD. Except for the Northern Green Jumping Tree Spider. There might be words missing or muddled in that title. I always did get it a bit muddled. But it was a very odd looking green spider that apparently was best to avoid. Oh, and the Burrowing Frogs that appeared our last summer there when we had a really decent wet season and they all decided to come out of hibernation. Gorgeous looking. But very noisy. Glick, glick, glick they went. Glick, glick, glick. Then, just as you were sort of used to the noise and were finally drifting off to sleep something would spook them and they would all go silent. You'd be almost asleep that time, before they all found a new spot and started glicking again! Ah, life in the tropics. But no interesting plants. No one had gardened there before, I gather.

What interesting things have you discovered in the garden when you've moved into a new place?

Amy

Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Creative Garden Stakes

When I needed to plant tomatoes a few months back, I realised that I don't have any stakes. I also don't have a spade, fork, hose or most other garden implements. In fact, I personally own a bucket, rubber gloves, and a hand trowel. Plus some seed raising mix, seeds, and punnets. But that's about it. One of the costs of moving - my spade and fork got sold in a garage sale before we left Townsville, along with our garden hoses. However, in saying that, I must admit that I do now own a garden hose. This is thanks to my wonderful in-laws, who had a spare. It even came on one of those fancy reels with a handle so for once in my life I have a TIDY garden hose. Anyone ever have the 'garden hose won't jolly well stay in a nice neat roll or pile or anything' issue? Yeah, that's usually what my hose is like. But not any more, now it is neatly wound up on its reel each time and I feel rather satisfied with the spic and span-ness of it all. But I digress. I didn't have garden stakes, among other things. I didn't want to go out and buy some, just for tomatoes. My parents have stakes, but they all get used every year for their tomatoes (some of which I do hope to eat too - the ones in my garden are a kind of back up/over flow just in case things go wrong somewhere along the line). So I got a bit creative. I'd borrowed the long handled loppers from Dad anyway, and was pruning camellia trees, so I figured, why not make use of some of those branches?! Here's the result.


Not your tidiest looking stakes. And some of the tomatoes against the house (not seen here) are in need of taller stakes, but all things considered I am rather happy with my tomato stakes. They didn't cost me anything. They were going to be rubbish anyway. All I had to do was strip the branches and leaves off, and pop them in the garden. My tomatoes don't seem to mind that they are not kept exactly vertical. In fact, they don't seem phased at all. They are merrily producing fruit with no regard to their staking whatsoever. Whenever I head out to the garden, I am greeted by this crazy leaning jumble of stakes and tomato plants, and find myself thinking that recyling is a very creative, cool thing to do...no one else is going to have a garden that looks quite like mine, are they?!?

Amy
Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Eating

I was thinking about Munchkin's food yesterday. He loves his solids and we have been gradually trying lots of new tastes. This week, he tried out silverbeet and peaches (an odd combination, I know!). For his dinner last night he had: carrot, potato, kumara (sweet potato), silverbeet and peaches (to sweeten up the silverbeet!). Yesterday I bought our fruit and veges for the week. Half of my shopping was for Munchy baby. There was the box of baby rice, which I use to thicken up his pear and apple for breakfast and sometimes mix with his mashed banana at lunchtime. Then there was some broccoli and zucchini to try in the coming week or so. And some pork and chicken too. He's tried fish recently, so I thought we could try a couple of other meats now, along with some lentils and rice which I still need to prepare. I spent awhile cooking, pureeing and freezing it all in tablespoon-sized amounts.

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.

Amy
Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 2

Here's another of Munchkin's favourite toys as a young baby.


This rattle belonged to me, or my brothers. So it is at least 20 odd years old, and still going strong. Munchy has other rattles. But this is his absolute favourite, particularly when he was around 3-4 months and just starting to hold things. You might notice that this rattle has a nice big hole in the middle, with a narrow ring perfect for little fingers to get around. The rattle pieces are also thin and delicate. I've noticed that a lot of rattles seem to either have a ring that is too small (can't get hand around it, or fingers inside it) or rattle pieces that are too chunky (and get in the way of holding the rattle, which kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?!). I do get somewhat frustrated that items which have supposedly been designed with a purpose in mind, have really had so little planning involved in reality. To me, this seems to be pretty simple thinking. If designing stuff for a small baby, then you need to make sure they can actually hold it.

So this one is just perfect.
Amy
Tuesday, 14th December, 2010




Monday, December 13, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 1

Here is one of Munchkin's favourite toys, made for him by Chrissy over at Silver Jandals (see my blog roll).


It is one of the most amazing baby toys I've seen! So simple. It is fabric, with folded ribbons all around the sides. Inside there's something that crinkles every time you grib the fabric.

When he was really little, Munchkin would just grab the fabric. Then of course there is the sucking. Now, at 6 months old, he loves to use his fingers to grab individual bits of ribbon, touching and stroking, pulling, and of course putting in his mouth.

It has been puked on and through the wash several times. It fits in a small corner of his bag if we need a 'going out' toy. It's colourful. It engages his senses and encourages him to explore and develop coordination. And he just loves it, which is all that really matters!

I think this toy should be given to every newborn. Never mind all those fancy store-bought things. This is the real deal.

Amy

Monday, 13th December, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Haji

Our sponsored boy had a birthday in November. The little man turned 7.

Because he lives so far away in Tanzania, letters take at least a month, if not more, to reach him (they go through a careful process through Tear Fund/Compassion who we sponsor through which does also prolong the process, but so worth it to know that he will receive and enjoy them, and write back to us).

This year one of my goals was to start treating our sponsored children more as family members and less as social obligations. A lot of people sponsor kids, which I think is awesome. But I have felt a little convicted that for me personally it is important that I treat my sponsored kids with love and respect. This, for me, means that I am not sponsoring them just to 'do my duty' but because I genuinely want good for each of their special lives. I want to get to know them, as much as is possible across the distance and language barriers that separate us. I want to pray for them, write to them, and remember their birthdays. This last one has been a sore point for me over the past years. I always seem to forget their birthdays. I've realised this is partly because I don't treat them as family birthdays. Family birthdays are REALLY important in my family. A birthday is your one special day of the year. You get to choose the food for a family celebration. The silverwear and crystal come out for the meal. The night before you basically got locked in your room as most family members were making birthday cards. I owe a lot of this to my mum, who really values birthdays and works hard to make them extra special. So, I realised that I don't treat my sponsored kids birthdays as equally important as family birthdays, and decided that this needs to change. The next issue was how to do that, when I know very well that I can't send them a big package (customs issues means the organisation can get huge fees to clear them, plus the items might not be appropriate, etc). I also can't just send them a card a week before, like I do with my brothers who live in Australia...it would be way too late. So what I figured out is that I need to put the sponsored kids in my birthday list. We increased our giving allowance, to include small financial gifts for their birthdays (Compassion encourages a small monetary gift, which their local worker then spends with the child and their family members - Haji has bought a mattress in the past, and Mariam shoes. This way the gifts are relevant and useful, and they also support the local community economy where the kids live). And what I've done is instead of celebrating their birthdays on the actual day, I've decided we will celebrate them at least a month early.

So here's what we did in October:


This is made of A4 paper, folded up easily to post, and coloured in by myself, Boyo and my mum. I did invite a few friends to come and have desert to celebrate with us, but no one ended up coming. The poster idea comes from my childhood. For quite a few years there we used to make these posters for each others birthdays. Many happy hours were spent drawing and colouring, then the poster would be displayed for the week on the wall, usually near where the birthday dinner was to be held.

He should hopefully have received it by now. I wonder what he thinks?


Amy

Sunday, 12th December, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm back...

I'm back. Mostly. One of my friends has a very apt saying that goes something like "kinda-sorta-nearly-but-not-quite-really." This describes me very well just now. I have reached the end of the year with a screaming halt. My brain, body and emotions are telling me that I am, indeed, a madwoman. But I have made it. This past week I collected a cold on top of a cold. Or is just a really long, multiple-symptom cold? Probably just my body telling me it has totally had enough and some rest is in order right about NOW, thank you very much. Exam results are in. End of year results are in. I did really well, especially when considering that I had a baby half way through the year. One of my lecturers made the comment that my year has been a 'little unsettled in some ways.' I would have to agree! But here we are, at the end. I survived a three week full time practicum in a great kindergarten (with 3 and 4 year olds) and learned a lot. Munchkin enjoyed his time with his Suzz (grandmother) and Daddy. We even made it to Australia for a wedding the week after (travelling with a baby is an interesting experience!). So now I get to relax a little. This morning Munchy and I are going to garden after he's had breakfast. I've enjoyed a few mornings without setting an alarm clock. I'm gradually going to sort through some of the boxes in the garage which have been in storage for 4 years now. It will be interesting to see what I find! And there's a few friends who have been promised 'catch-ups' for months. I think we will just take the next few weeks as they come.

Amy
Friday, 10th December, 2010