Sunday, January 13, 2013

Off the Shelf: We and Our Children

This 1954 text has now been republished by Sophia Institute Press as How to Raise Good Catholic Children. I know because I happened to purchase copies of both!  Fortunately, The Book Depository was very good about the fact that this had happened because they had no description on their site and refunded the purchase price of one.  I actually happened to read the How to Raise Good Catholic Children copy because it was the first to arrive - but I believe they are same except for some errata which have been corrected in this copy.

Anyhow, I actually think the new title does the book a disservice because although aspects of it are pertinent only to Roman Catholics, much of it is a very sound basis for giving you child a strong Christian grounding in life.  Mary Reed Newland is such a clever writer that it feels like she is in your loungeroom having a good old chat to you.  Her book is littered with real life examples.  She covers ground from baptism, training your child in good behaviour, making your child feel secure, death and teaching your child to be a good student.

She starts by telling us that a child needs to know he is loved by God.  In toddlerhood he does not need to know the intricacies of who God is.  It is enough to know:

God made me.
God made me because he loved me.

Newland writes:
Without an adequate knowledge of God's love, the bottom drops out of everything.  A merely vague indication that He's somewhere about and loves them is a small comfort when they're really hurt and heartsick.

I learned this in a way I shall never forget.  After a nasty display of temper, prompted by something I can't even remember now, I found Monica, then six, watching me with concern.  When I asked her what she was thinking, she said, somewhat timidly "You said I mustn't be naughty if I want to be a saint, so I was asked God to help you not be cross, so you can be a saint."

That I had trampled all over her with my peevishness was a matter of deep shame, but above that, there was profound gratitude that, driven into solitude, she shared her solitude with God.  How terrible the loneliness of a child without God at such a time.

She also tells us how we can teach our children about the holy spirit indwelling since baptism. 

"God loves you so, dear, that it was not enough for Him to send you down to earth and then stand far away in Heaven and watch you.  He cannot bear to be parted from you.  So when you were baptised, at that very moment, Heaven opened and, faster than the wind, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit came rushing down to make their home in your soul."

I had a good old chat about this with Ginger (2 1/2) and I can tell you it has had an impact.  Early this week, she started a monologue (these can sometimes be quite extended, particularly around lights out time LOL): 

"Jesus lives in my heart.  He will come out and I will say 'Hello'.   Jesus died for all his friends."

Ok, so she has the mystery of the Trinity a little muddled (but it perplexes seasoned theologians so she is not alone there) but its a start.  Also we are not really sure where the Jesus dying concept came from as we can only recall mentioning it to her when we read the Easter story back in April....and she surely wouldn't remember it from then.  Maybe seeing the crucifix at church?

One of Newland's ideas I loved was teaching children that work can be prayer. Newland says we can teach children to understand that work done for the love of God is as tangible an act of love as if they were to run to Him with an embrace.  

Not that tasks we hate doing are suddenly transformed into occasions of great spiritual joy but there's a great difference between doing them because you're told you must, and doing them because they can be applied to the sufferings of some other child somewhere, who has not bed to make, who must spend his nights curled up in a hole, shivering, started, unhappy, and with no one to care for him.

I have jumped about the book a bit writing this precis but goodness is this a sterling read.  I am sure I will be making good use of We and Our Children in the years to come.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}


It was my birthday last weekend. We went out for breakfast at the Cornucopia Cafe at the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery.  Anyone with young children, sans the necessary babysitter, knows that breakfast or morning tea is by far the most enjoyable meal to have out with them.  We opted for breakfast as it is over twelve months since we have eaten it out, and we both had a hankering for hollandaise sauce (our homemade efforts having been unsuccessful).

We had a beautiful view of Darwin Harbour and the Beagle Gulf. 

Ginger enjoyed watching the ships heading out to sea.  See the navy ship off to patrol our borders!

Mr Provincial and I got our hollandaise hit!  

Eggs Benedict for me, and Eggs with smoked trout for him.  

Ginger thoroughly enjoyed her Mango and Coconut bread and even asked, when she had two squares left and was clearly struggling, "can you wrap it up so I can take it away". Ah Ginger, your maternal Grandmother would be proud.


I asked Mr Provincial if he could get a photo of the children and I together.  Fun!  This was the best we did.  Note Ginger's fake smile and Tom Kitten gazing off into the distance.


You have to love opening presents with young children around.  While Tom Kitten munched the wrapping paper, Ginger unwrapped all my parcels.  

She then declared that she would like to have her birthday "on Tuesday" (her reference to anything in the near future) and that Mummy and Daddy would need to wrap presents for her.  Hard luck Ginger, you will have to wait for April to turn 3!


My request for my birthday, in addition to breakfast out, was for a trip to the op-shop at Nightcliff Uniting Church.  In my personal opinion it is the best in Darwin; having reasonably priced stock - books for 50c to $1 compared to $4 or $5 in the mainstream op-shops.  Unfortunately it is only open for a couple of hours Friday evening and Saturday morning.  Mr Provincial is a little less enthusiastic op-shopper than I but he very kindly watched the children while I browsed.

The Church runs a cafe called Frillies (for reasons which soon become apparent) when the Op-shop is open and Mr Provincial took advantage of having the camera in the car to capture some of the resident Frill-necked lizards and other reptilia.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1/52 - At Home

A photo a week of my babies for one year.

Joining in here.

One trolley; multiple uses.
Ginger - "What do we need?" or playing shopping.
Tom Kitten - conquering Everest.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Off the Shelf 2013: John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins

Are you like me and have a substantial collection of books on the shelf that you apparently thought at the time of acquisition would be worth reading?  I find these books enter the shelves in two main ways:  offcasts from another - we booklovers are always afraid to look a bookhorse in the mouth and refuse the offering, or because they were cheapies at a charity shop or booksale and we thought "why not?". 

Well my collection of the aforementioned unloved books has reached critical mass and I have decided that 2013 is my year to whittle them down by having a good go at reading them, discerning those which are worth retaining and those which can journey to pastures new.

First off the shelf was John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins. I have to confess this was a little 'literary' for me.  I had a lot of trouble keeping track of what was going on!

What I was left in no uncertain terms about though is that this book is chilling and brutal.  Set in Burma in 1918 a group of English men, women and children set off to an island off Rangoon to proclaim it for King George.  In the course of their celebration a earthquake and tsunami besets them and only a small group of girls are left on the island.

This is where it gets rather "Lord of the Flies-ish".  First a whole set of rules are declared, only the eldest two girls set themselves above them.  Then a severely injured John Dollar (a member of the original party) is found washed up on the beach on another part of the island.  Initially all the girls take care of him but over time the oldest girls become controlling, keep the other girls away and start to brutalise him (in fact, I think they canabilise him in the end but as I have I was struggling with the writing and was not about to reread to double check).

At one stage of the book, other members of the original party (the fathers of the girls) are brought to the island by the natives and as far as I could gather ritualistically sacrificed by said natives.

In the end only the two eldest girls remain, and Monkey (a half Burmese girl who is treated as less than equal by the others).  Becoming aware of what they are up to, she flees into the jungle where she stumbles across a very confused Charlotte; the girls' teacher and John Dollar's lover.  Monkey leads Charlotte to where the eldest girls' and John Dollar were...but it is too late.

This book left me wondering if I was a literary dunce and wanting my time back.  Fortunately, a quick google revealed I was not alone in my confusion!    So, all in all this book is definitely on the discard pile!

You can read the original New York Times review here.

One down.....many more to go.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pretty Happy Funny Real - Christmas

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for the weekly celebration of the ordinary.


I love getting out all our treasured Christmas decorations and making the house shine.

The Christmas pyramid that reminds us of our time posted to Toowoomba, living down the road from the German Cuckoo Clock Shop. 

The nativity scene waiting for baby Jesus.  We have checked out a good number of crib scenes around Darwin - at our church, and at both the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals.

 The quilted nativity scene from our time in Toowoomba.  One of those crafts that I tired of while I was completing it, but am now so glad I persevered to see it through.

 A delightful package from my Christmas decoration swap partner, a hessian rose. 

And favourite oldies...

And, of course we love digging out the Christmas books.  The Christmas Book by Dick Bruna is a treasure, but unfortunately now out of print.  It tells the Christmas story beautifully.


This is the first year Ginger has really understood what the Christmas stocking and parcels are about.  Tom Kitten slept in Christmas morning so Ginger got to unpack her stocking by herself before we went to Church. The dolls house was the present from us, but obviously it was just a little difficult to wrap.   She knew exactly what the dolls in her stocking were for.


Since Tom Kitten showed more interest in Ginger's doll's house and dolls than his own presents, Ginger evidently decided to help him unpack his stocking.  Particularly funny, since I didn't even notice until I loaded the photos onto the computer. Dare I say, I was a little preoccupied in the kitchen!

As is typical the shiny paper had more appeal than the present itself.

Mum's lap for a snuggle is much more valued than any present in the world.

Ginger was pretty impressed with the box filled with the paper for recycling.  At least the doll she got from her Godmother made it in too!  I am told that what you can see is baby in bed:)


As is typical my procrastination ensured good intentions remained just that for our St Lucia day celebrations.  I finished Ginger's St Lucia crown the day after the feast day.  In part this was caused by procrastination but developing golfer's elbow (according to the physio) blanket stitching all those leaves did not help me much either*. 

Oh well, next year it will be ready!  Perhaps I should make a start on the dress... then there is a chance it will actually be completed in time.

*I used a styrofoam wreath wrapped in felt for the base.  Then traced a leaf (from the tree outside) onto green felt for the leaves.  Each leaf is two pieces of felt blanket stitched together and then the vein was chain stitched on.  I made the candles by rolling cheap acrylic felt until stiff and then wrapping it in my nice wool felt.  I cheated for the red felted balls and bought them online!  If I had made them by hand the wreath still would not be finished.