31 December 2004

The Christmas Beard Poll

Should David keep his beard? In Australia whenever David grew a beard he knew he would get a friendly ribbing or surprise people. But this time he is getting various favourable responses from most of the locals. This is very confusing. Here is your chance to voice your opinion. Should the beard stay or go?
(Clare reckons the beard should stay as it is “tickly to kiss”)

Should the beard stay or go?

Almost a White Christmas

We missed out on a white Christmas by one week. On the Sunday prior we were at Church attending the Sunday School when snow started to lightly fall, then heavier and then it began to “stick”. When snow “sticks” it doesn’t just melt upon hitting the ground. In less than one hour, everything was completely white, with enough snow to play in. As it was between Masses, even Father Wise threw a few snowballs and all the children enjoyed themselves.

Almost a white Christmas

Merry Christmas

We celebrate Christmas is line with ancient Christian traditions, whereby we prepare for the day with four weeks of preparation (Advent) lighting a candle for each week. We also give up something or do something extra to remind us of what is coming. It is sort of like a mini Lent. Then on the last Sunday of Advent we put up the Christmas tree. This year we found one from Walmart, which came complete with built in lights, and no dropping pine needles for Rose to eat.
In the last week Mary and Joseph are moved each day on their way to the Nativity Scene and each child puts up a decoration. Then whilst we attend Christmas Eve Mass the presents mysteriously appear under the tree.
Ariel, Eric and James were in the Choir at the Christmas Eve Mass.
Then the 12 days of Christmas are celebrated, ending on January 6 – The Epiphany (Coming of the wise men). Whilst the wise men begin their trek around the house we MUST celebrate somehow each day. All good fun.

Some of theParish children being a live Nativity Scene prior to Christmas Eve Mass.
The photo is a bit fuzzy as I didn't want to use the flash.

Nativity Play

On Christmas day we all enjoyed the joy of the season and ended at a friend’s house and were able to borrow their grandparents and family. The children all joined in a nativity play David created. He tried to find one on the Internet but they were all “re-interpreted” or silly, so he went straight to the gospels of Luke and Matthew and made a play straight from the text. It worked out great.
The children all did well and we will do even better next year. The borrowed grandparents and Aunt were delighted to be able to take on their role as the audience.
We have put a copy of the Nativity play into the Bruggie Tales folder on the web site.

The final bow for the Nativty Play 2004.

The Nativity Play Scene Angel

Clare was supposed to be the “Scene Angel”, but she wanted to be a fairy, so a Scene Fairy she was. As each scene was to commence Clare stepped out and announced, “The angels appear to Jofes” and “The Flee wise men” whilst spinning around and holding her skirt.

The Scene Fairy

Rose's First Christmas

Rose as a Christmas Ornament


For many years David enjoyed wargaming – playing games with historical toy soldiers. This lasted from when he was twelve years old until in his late 20’s when family commitments and moving interstate made it hard to find opponents. But now Eric and James are old enough to play, so it has started up again. They have purchased some figures and some models and lots of craft materials and paints to make the scenery and paint the soldiers. The boys (all four of them) are having great fun, supplying all the sound effects and imagination to fill in any gaps in the models. David has discovered that he can still paint adequately, and he enjoys the boys awe and wonder on how well the figures look. This is working out to be a great activity they can all play together. All David has to do is to remember to keep the rules and play simple – complexity can come into the games as they all get more experienced.

Rubbish Opossum

Our rubbish (aka Garbage/Trash) has recently been mauled by unknown creatures of the night. We thought it was dogs, but the neighbours with the dogs moved, and it wasn't cats or squirrels, so we set up better vigilance. We finally saw this weird creature attacking the plastic bags and suddenly realized, "That's a possum!", quickly followed with a "Yuk!". Naturally enough, when locals said "possum" we thought of cute Australian possums. As you can see by the picture, cute is one word you would NOT use to describe an Opossum here.

Our rubbish attacking Opossum.

Mavis Beacon

An enjoyable typing tutor program we are using is called “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing”, by Broderbund. The children have competitions to see who gets the fastest, and it intersperses the lessons with games – which are really lessons in another form. They had great fun picking on David who tried using his normal 2+ finger typing “method” and getting slower in the lessons than they were getting!

Another Aussie in America

Interesting Web site
Lana discovered this very interesting site whilst looking up taxidermy and Australian quarantine laws. A lady married to an American writes it and she has many cultural comparisons that certainly resonate with us. Be sure to read the story “Squirrelly ways” in the wildlife section, a list of 300 words that are confusing and her description of Possums. Lana couldn’t tell the squirrel story to David without laughing continually during her explanation.

iTunes and Airtunes

We organize all of our music and sound files using iTunes. It is a free sound library software available from Apple and is very easy to use. When linked to an iPod it becomes a portable and flexible music library. Now Apple has released a little box called Airtunes. This is basically a wireless base station that can connect to a sound system. From our main computer (with a wireless card), iTunes sends the music, or audio book, or radio show we wish to play across the house to the Airtunes which is plugged into the speaker system. Now the computer is linked to the house and we can all hear the music very well. The Airtunes thing is about $120 US.


One thing we have really missed from Australia are nice sausages. There are plenty of hotdog sausages here and even some tasty specialist sausages but not what we are used to. David was finally able to obtain his father’s secret pork sausage recipe and we showed it to the local meat market. They were very obliging and made up a batch for us and the next day as the sausages sizzled away, the smells brought back many fond memories. And they tasted pretty good, too.

The Sound of Reading

One of the family Christmas presents was the audio book of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. All seven stories are well narrated by different actors and they are a delight to hear. They are all unabridged and we are able to hear (and re-hear) the stories together. It is available for only $51 US at Amazon Books.
Previously we had purchased the audio books for J.R.Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. These were also well read and took a long time to finish. As the books contain far more than was in the film, the children not only understood the parts of the film they did see, but were also able to experience the fullness of Tolkein’s epic.