31 December 2007

Explaining Christmas to our children

The stomach bug which swept through our family on the day before Christmas meant we missed the Vigil Mass. So we spent some time together and went through why Christmas is such an important celebration and why it is the most important event in human history.
In a mix of narration and question & answer format we went through salvation history.
First God made a deal (covenant - a binding agreement between family members) with Adam on behalf of Adam and his wife - the first Couple. Then he tried with Noah - a family. Then Abraham - a tribe, and Moses - a people, and David - a kingdom. Each deal was with a larger group of people but each time the human side of the bargain fell through. It was very obvious that unaided Man could not keep his side of the bargain. But the covenant had to be between Man and God and Man had broken the original deal.
So Jesus - fully God and fully Man - stepped in and took on the human side of the deal on behalf of all men and paid the price that was necessary to be paid for us to share in the salvation promised by God.
(That is the summarised version without all of the interruptions and side-trackings questions and answers lead to.)
At the mention of Adam and Eve, Clare asked a question.
"Yes, Clare?"
"You know about Adam and Eve?"
"Yes ..."
"They were nudie pudie." [That is, they wore no clothes.]
Ah well, the discussion is always aimed at many levels depending on where the child is at.
(The photo is just a cute one of Martin's first Christmas)

30 December 2007

A White Christmas?

Who would have thought? There we were, listening to Christmas Carols filled with imagery of white Christmases and snow while driving in very hot mid 30C temperatures, when we saw white stuff on the ground! About an hour or so before we reached this spot there had been a huge hail storm. We quickly parked on the side of the road (joining a number of other cars) and hopped out to take a photo.
This pile of hail is between pea and marble size and had not yet melted about 3 hours after it all fell. We can just imagine what a mess it was during the storm. On one of the side roads the shredded leaves on the road looked like grass clippings. A number of locals all commented on how green the sky was during the storm.

25 December 2007

An unplanned restful day

We had planned lots of things with our cousins. But one thing we didn't plan on - a stomach bug. Eric and Ariel were struck down with a sore stomach which meant we stayed home yesterday - and even missed Christmas vigil Mass.
This meant also cancelling a planned fancy dinner with my parents and a very quiet day yesterday. This photo (click for more details) shows how Lana enjoyed the day.
Luckily it seems to be a 24 hour thing so we were able to get to Mass today and visit my parents. But fancy meals were a problem. We hadn't planned on needing anything and today all the shops are closed. So instead of a fancy three course Christmas meal, we had sausages on bread with my parents.
My sister's husband came down with the same thing so while he is resting we are getting together with my sister and her remaining unsick members and having a scratch meal. It's all good Christmas fun either way.

You Have to Share!

This morning we had the added fun of sharing Christmas morning with my brother and his family. The presents for his children and ours looked quite a sight and each child's excitement increased the excitement of each of the other children. But being meanie parents we still made them have some breakfast first!
Once all breakfasts were completed (quicker than normal) we sat down and started passing out the presents one at a time so all could share in the fun of opening gifts.
Our nephew, C - 4, received a lolly (candy) filled stocking and announced, "Lollies!". A split second later his sister, L - 3, cried out, "You have to share!" She has learned quickly how one gets lollies!
This photo shows L guarding the big present which she had been told by one of her brothers had her name on it. When my brother announced that some smaller present had her name on it she declared, "No. I want the big one." This is her guarding the big one, waiting for her moment.
The older nephew, X - 6, received exactly the present he wanted and with a very excited, high voice ran around saying, "A microphone! This is just what I wanted! Santa is soooo clever."

All in a spin over Christmas dresses

Lana's mum was very busy before Christmas putting together dresses for Clare and Rose. Ariel supplied the material as her contribution and Lana provided assistance.
When the girls opened their presents this morning they took a sharp intake of breath and cried aloud, "It's a new dress!" and immediately arranged to put them on.
Once everyone else had sorted out their presents I asked both girls to come outside and have a few photos taken.
I figured this would be a great time to share their joy.

24 December 2007

Christmas in Melbourne

Our first stop was at the Myer main store in Melbourne for their traditional Christmas window display. The windows have been put on since 1956 and are always an impressive display of puppetry. Occasionally they even have a loose Christmas theme! This year was a tribute to the Environmentalist faith about a pristine wilderness, discovered by a fellow who decides to live there with his family. Then tourists come and then a town and the wilderness goes away. Then the people leave the city because there aren't any wild things there and then the town crumbles until "balance" is once more restored. Merry Christmas!
We then joined in Mass at St Francis, the oldest church in Victoria.
On our way to the tram stop for our next visit, we passed very long queues waiting to visit the same display we had already seen. Lucky we came early!
The children reckon the tram ride was the most fun. The driver must have only had stop and go buttons - each time the tram started everyone was jolted backwards, and then forwards when we stopped. Our children were laughing and enjoying themselves thoroughly. Who wants an amusement ride when you can catch a tram instead!
This last photo is of James looking out the train window on our return train ride. All the children were pretty tired after a full day.

You Will be Validated!

We are currently visiting my family in Melbourne for Christmas. Yesterday we went with my brother and his family into the city by train to see various Christmas displays and attend Mass at St Francis Church.
We parked at the station and I asked the ticket seller "What is the best way for my family to catch the train to Melbourne?"
He quickly got out his hand calculator and worked out 7 tickets at $2.50 each.
"Thanks," I said and we boarded the train.
Once we arrived at Melbourne we put our tickets in the machine and were informed "Ticket Not Validated"
Perplexed, we approached a ticket inspector and asked, "The machine says our tickets aren't validated."
"Your tickets must be validated." he cleverly (yet cheerfully) replied.
"We purchased them from the ticket booth at the station and boarded the train," we responded.
"Didn't you validate them?"
"Did you read the back of the ticket?"
"Do you mean this fine print?" I answered (See the attached picture)
"See?" he pointed, "the ticket must be validated."
"Wouldn't they be valid when I purchased them?"
"He didn't tell us the tickets he sold us weren't valid."
"He doesn't have to."
"Well, we are from out of town and our telepathy has failed us. Now what do we do?"
"You're lucky the ticket inspectors didn't catch you. You would have faced fines of $160 per ticket."
"Is this how you treat all tourists who fail this initial test?"
He then let us through and validated the tickets, saving us from the dire threat of apprehension by the ticket authorities!

19 December 2007

Homeschool Family Video

This is a very well produced video of a homeschool family. It's well worth a look.

Where's Legoman?

We are getting close to Christmas! The Pink candle has been lit in the Advent wreath, remembering "Rejoice Sunday", so the visual signs have begun. Both nativity sets are erected and Mary and Joseph are placed somewhere in the house to begin their journey to the stable. Each day I am to move them closer until they arrive on Christmas Eve. After we return from Christmas Mass one of the children place Baby Jesus in the crib.
The Christmas tree is also erected. Each day the children put on one decoration each which quickly builds up until you can hardly see any green. James and Eric have decided that they would play a "Where's Legoman" game by putting a Lego man somewhere in the tree which the other children have to find amongst the bright and colourful trimmings. This is the first one put up by James. He is attached by a string to one of the topmost branches, hiding behind an angel, surveying the lounge-room with his binoculars. (Click the picture for more detail.)

13 December 2007

How will you die?

Apparently my anwers didn't fit the standard mould. Who would have thought?

You'll die Mysteriously...

You are a different sort of person and your death will be unexplainable.

'How will you die?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Hat Tip: Dr Helen

8 December 2007

The Make-do Spirit

Rose always wants to wear her little boots when she runs around outside. But sometimes she can't find them. So she makes do.
Here she is modelling her special boot replacements - an ice-cream container and a sand pail. The sand pail is not even wide enough for her foot so she has to tip toe in that one!
Where were her boots? In the boot basket of course! Why would she look where they are supposed to be. They are never there normally.

6 December 2007

Today is St Nicholas Day

[by Lana]

Today is St Nicholas' feast day. We try to do something special for the man so much linked to Christmas, but somehow we often forget until it is too late. This time David and I kept reminding each other.
But early this morning I remembered that I had forgotten to make up the little bag of goodies for the children. Quickly scrambling out of bed I made the goodie bags, filling them with Dutch Licorice and small biscuits (pepernotens) - we didn't have any chocolate coins left.
As I placed them on the ends of the beds I was caught by Eric who was soon due to be up.
"Shh, don't worry about it," I whispered conspiratorially.
James kicked his bag off the end of the bed even before I had walked out the door. Clare opened one eye as I took this picture of her. She then promptly returned to sleep. Rose had commandeered Ariel's bed sometime during the night, and we wanted to make sure she didn't take Ariel's treat as well so we kept Ariel's separate. (By the way, it is amazing that someone so small can take up so much room).
Upon waking up the children were surprised and wondered what the treat was for and especially wanted to know, "Are they all for me?" I reminded them that today was St Nicholas Feast Day. Now they remembered and immediately began to trade for their favourites.
We also printed out some colouring pictures and they sat around the table eating their treats and colouring pictures. This was such a nice way to start the day.

4 December 2007

Our Garden is bearing fruit!

Since we first built our house and arranged for the septic soakage area to be in irrigation pipes, we have waited for some fruit from our well irrigated garden.
This year we look like having a huge load of berries. We have begun to enjoy home grown Raspberries, Marian Berries, Young Berries and some other types which are just as yummy.
Rose and Clare help Lana and her Mum collect the berries and we STILL have enough for baking!
(This is a detailed picture - so click for a bigger photo)

1 December 2007

Survivors of a Sunk Cruise Ship.

Why Homeschool has posted an email of one of the passengers who was on the cruise ship Explorer which sank off the coast of Chile.
It is a well written piece by someone who was right in the thick of the event. It is well worth a read.