Tuesday, July 1, 2014

TV, Toys and children

I recently read a blog about the benefits for children having less toys. The writer listed many benefits and from what I know of children they are accurate. Too many toys over stimulate children and minimize the need for them to use their surroundings creatively.

I want to have a TV rant though. I have observed different ages of children and how they view tv when it is constantly on, when there are only certain programs at certain times and when the tv is switched off regardless of what usually happens. With older children TV will include all screen activities educational and otherwise.

I look after a baby and a two year old in a house all day one day a week. The TV is on all day on ABC2 (age appropriate tv programs) on a low volume. The younger child ignores the tv, the older child will alternate between playing and watching tv minute by minute. These are not children who are content or even encouraged to sit for any length of time on the couch and watch tv. When I turn the tv off it does not worry them at all and they concentrate on playing.

Fast forward to a 5 yr old and a 4 yr old, different house, different situation, different parents. These children have grown up in a house with the tv always on. Their mother wishes them to sit still and watch a movie or two on a daily basis so they are out of her hair. Because the tv is always on they are not interested in sitting to watch, it is more interesting and satisfying to get their mothers attention however they can. Thus tv is not a good baby sitter. I cared for these girls each day for a week while their mum was away and we did not watch any tv (they did not miss it at all) and we went to the park, we cared for my horse, I did cross words while they helped or played in the back yard. (These children have more toys than they can possibly play with and so usually play with none of them. They like the idea of toy ownership but do not care for or play with the toys)

Fast forward to 6 and 8 yr olds who, on weekends and holidays are allowed to play screen activities of all kinds for 6 or 8 hours a day. I turned off and forbade all of these one day, dealt patiently with the whining, and the kids discovered they could play games on the trampoline. At first their games reflected their screen games (pokemon, mario) but with 6 months they were playing games from books they had read, from experiences they had had and about animals they played with.

Fast forward to 10 and 11 yr olds. Even at this age, turning off the tv and playing with them, reading to them, and refusing to allow the tv to be turned on before a certain time resulted in better obedience, more creative time fillers and more reading and problem solving and experiences. We built a fort out of hay in the shed and through pine cones at invisible monsters, we tried to build a bridge across a patch of knee deep cow mud.

It is never too late to turn off and leave off electronic entertainment and, after dealing with the whining, enjoying spending time with children. Sometimes even just sitting outside reading a book or doing a cross word while they play helps them feel valued. Sometimes insisting that they go outside or into their bedrooms or whatever to play while you are busy gives them time to be creative on their own. Do plan to spend time with your children either doing what they enjoy (barbies, babies, tea party, cars, pokemon, soccer) or teach them to do something you enjoy (fishing, cooking, sewing, craft, painting, gardening) They will live either.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christian life is a walk

The apostle Paul was a genius when he said the Christian life is a race that needs to be run to the end. I was walking home from the shops today and, thinking about the metaphor, decided that it was difficult to push it too far.
The walk I took begins fairly easily with a down hill bit followed by a foot path with patchy shade, after a while you cross a road and there begins a long, steady uphill walk along desert like dirt and rocks with occasional shade. This part seems endless and each time you look up it feels like you are no closer to the goal. Then Suddenly you are at the top and over the bridge and an interesting, shady can be enjoyed with the end in sight.

Christianity, like the walk, has easy, good bits in it, down hills, shade, footpaths. It also has what feels like never ending boringness, hardship, spiritual dryness, lack of energy, what feels like lack of progress. Both of these are good and particularly the less easy parts make you stronger/fitter.

Christianity, like walking, is easier and more pleasant when shared with company. This is why we go to church and bible study, so we don't get discouraged and tired as much. In saying that both Christianity and walking can (and sometimes should) be done without other people with great personal benefit of self discipline.

The Christian walk, like a physical walk, has a goal and a plan and a direction to take. It is good to keep the goal in mind and not to be distracted by attractively interesting and shady looking paths. This is a particular temptation in the dry, hard bits of both walks. If you get distracted it means at best a detour that wastes time and at worst getting lost altogether.

God is like the father who is taking his children for the walk, holding their hands and guiding them. God doesn't mind if we fall over, have a little tantrum, have a little pity party, sit and sulk for a while, as long as we get up and continue to walk. However as every parent knows, tantrums and hissy fits don't solve much, they only waste energy. What God is less pleased about is giving up the walk altogether and being our own boss and taking what looks like the easy option of a car. Initially our way looks better, quicker, easier, but then we finish up like the space people in Wall-E who can't even walk.

Christian life is a walk, pleasant and hard, hot and cold, wet and dry, thirsty and refreshed. The more you do it and practice the stronger you get. Obviously not a perfect metaphor but it can bee pushed pretty far before it becomes inaccurate.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Jesus told people to repent and be baptized. A simple enough instruction. The important part of the instruction is the repentance bit, the response to repenting is baptism.

Over the centuries, baptism has developed into a ritual practice and a "ticket to heaven" Today many people believe they are fine to go to heaven because they are good people and they were baptized. Repentance does not figure into it. I have not yet been baptized because of the ticket to heaven business, I originally wanted to unwind people's thinking that Baptism gets you to heaven. It isn't, it doesn't and it never will, Jesus paid our debt and his grace and forgiveness gets us to heaven when we believe we are sinners and he is God and able to forgive.

Some misconceptions about baptism among people include

  • It is the way to heaven, once you are baptized you are Christian enough to go to heaven, this is an almost entirely non christian view. Nobody who I know to be a Christian by their lives and words believes this as the bible doesn't support it.
  • Baptism is a public declaration of what I believe. Many Godly christians think this but unless I missed the right verse the bible doesn't support this. If it is a public declaration, why can't I get up in church and say I believe Jesus is God and has the power to forgive sins and to raise us from the dead on the last day, that with the help of the Holy Spirit I am striving to live with Jesus as king of my life. That is a public declaration of what I believe, why the water?
  • Baptism is a visible demonstration of what I believe (I think that could be worded better). This is getting closer I think to the biblical meaning of baptism. However it still gives more credit to it then is due. My christian daily life should be a visible demonstration of what I believe, a baptism is a bit of a one hit wonder so not really going to do this well.
  • Baptism is to encourage other Christian. ??? where does it say that in the bible? It may encourage a christian to see a non christian that they have evangelized come to fully understand what it is to be a christian and to be baptized, but that is not a biblical reason (correct me if I am wrong)
In the bible, simply put, baptism signifies the end of the old life of ignoring God and having myself or another God as ruler of my life and the beginning of having Jesus as king of my life. This makes baptism very important to a convert, one who has come to Jesus from a life openly serving other gods including self. It is to show themselves and their families and friends that they belong to Jesus now and their old life is finished. 

I grew up always believing Jesus is God and he has a right to be king of my life. As I got older I questioned what I believe and decided for myself that yes, Jesus is still king in my life. At no point has there been a stopping of the old life and beginning of a new one, I have simply (by God's grace) grown into my faith and understanding. All the time I am learning but I have never not believed the gospel of Christ. So, do I need to get baptized? I don't believe so. Is it a salvation issue? no. 

Please feel free to POLITELY comment if you have any thoughts or wisdom to add or things I missed.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pro horse trainer???

After having free access to a horse of my own and practicing all sorts of groundwork tricks on her, I was pretty confident I knew what I was doing regarding groundwork and horses.

Apparently other people thought I knew what I was doing and so I got a phone call to ask if I could teach a pony to go on a float when asked. He had been fine before the people bought him (apparently) but if there was no friend already in the float he would fight energetically to not go on the float. He was pulling the owner all over the place and after 2 hours of effort they decided not to go to pony club.

I agreed and was a bit nervous about trying it on a pony I didn't know WITH PEOPLE WATCHING. Everything went fine and within 1 hour I had had him on and off the float half a dozen times. The first half hour was spent chasing him in the round yard so the actual floating effort only took about 15 minutes. I told the man to try again the next day without me so that if there was going to be a problem it wasn't going to be when they were trying to get somewhere. It went badly so I went and worked with the pony again and showed the man an easier technique to apply discomfort and release accurately regarding obedience and they didn't have a problem again.

I then got invited to pony club to teach some classes to the kids and their ponies about horsemanship and teaching horses new tricks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to clean shower

This is a step by step directional guide for the cleaning of a shower

  1. Wait until it is dirty enough to see the difference. There is nothing feels more pointless then cleaning something that appears clean. Far more satisfying to see the gunge wipe away to reveal the original white. Waiting till somebody suggests cleaning it is slightly too long, so it is a tricky balance.
  2. Put on enjoyable music loud enough to sing along too. Bathrooms have good acoustics for singing but maybe do all this when nobody else is around. 
  3. Because you do not feel like you are cleaning anything if a spray of some sort is not involved, dig through the cupboard till you find a shower cleaner (or approximation of that). If you are lucky it will be eco friendly. If none produces water with a bit of soap for bubbles works fine.
  4. Once the spray is found, spray a little about (if it is a bleach, your bathroom will smell like an indoor pool for a week, also your clothes may turn interesting colours) 
  5. Wipe between the tiles and enjoy watching the cleaning process take effect, a brush is also satisfying with a bit of soap because then you rinse it away leaving it lovely and clean. Wipe the glass door and wall and enjoy watching all the soap, shampoo and conditioner marks come off. Again this only requires water and a sponge. If you can't get the soap off with water and a sponge you have really odd soap. (a good way to do this is while you are having a shower yourself, that way your clothes don't get wet and you get to stay in the shower longer)
  6. Now that you have cleaned the tiles and glass of visible and easily removed scum, you will notice that there is rough, cloudy, white, droplet-shaped marks on the glass door and wall. The way to get rid of this (and it seems to work) is to sprinkle Bi-carbonate of Soda and White vinegar and allow to soak before rinsing off. Some people advocated for scrubbing with a brush (plastic) some thought just vinegar left on overnight. (Here now comes a problem. How do you sprinkle white powder onto a smooth and vertical surface? None of the posts seemed to think this a problem, I did, so I will now share how to do it. Vinegar is easy, it goes in a squirty bottle)
  7. Firstly squirt the glass with vinegar so that the soda sticks, then pour some soda into your hand and rub onto the vinegar. Pour some vinegar into the stiff paste now formed in your hand and, while fizzing, smear over the glass. This is a fairly entertaining pass time, also a messy one. Vinegar, soda, vinegar, soda, until bored. By now the glass should be smeared over with a revolting white paste.
  8. Allowing it to dry did not seem to do any harm and adding more vinegar occasionally and watching it fizz was entertaining.
  9. Have a shower with hot water (cold is unpleasant) and use your brush to rinse and remove the vinegar/soda solution as well as any softened or dissolved calcium/lime (whichever it is) 
  10. Clean up the massive mess of soda and vinegar before your flatmate comes home, probably mopping the floor is a good plan at this point. 
  11. Satisfied with a job well done, have a rest with a book :)  
I did this today and, while not all of the white marks were gone, the glass was noticeably clearer. I will do it again next time I have a free morning this week.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Getting ready

My mother (allergic to anything with four legs, particularly cats) is coming to my house (also the home of a really nice lady and her two cats). I am already beginning to work out how to allow my mother to breathe while she is here. One bedroom is now quarantined, all the sheets, pillow slips and doona cover washed. The bedroom will be vacuumed extensively and then the door will be remaining shut till she arrives. The rest of the house is fairly carpet free so it is ok. The big problem will be the incredibly social cat who walks into, over and onto anyone who sits still for long enough. The cat is currently sitting on my lap making it hard to type.

I had visitors all week and one was allergic to cats (not as much as mum) so she gave me some helpful tips to gets ready for it. vacuuming the window sill and curtain, cushions, pillows etc. There was also one interesting thing to note, the door into her bedroom was shut all the time to prevent cats from welcoming themselves into her bedroom to put fur on her pillow etc. Pickles was eaten up with curiosity about what exciting things were going on behind closed doors that she stalked about outside the bedroom until the door opened then darted in before anyone could stop her. We vacuumed at her and she didn't try again. This is good to know, that there is a cat deterrent and also that it may be a problem

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fathers and Daughters

I have been reading a book called Bringing Up Girls by Dr James Dobson. From it I have found out a lot about myself and about a lot of grown up women that I know. The book says that fathers are important in their daughters lives from the beginning till the end. Mothers are as well, obviously, however I had not realized how important fathers are to girls.

Dobson says that a girls sense of self worth and self value is bound up very tightly with what her father thinks and says about her. Women desire to be thought of as lovely by men, since the first man in her life is her father, it falls to him to show her she is lovely and lovable to men. This also gives a father the opportunity to  show his daughter what she can expect from men regarding their behaviour towards her. Mark Driscoll has this right when he says he is his daughters valentine, he takes them on dates doing what his daughters want to do and he teaches them by example what to expect from future men in their lives. This also means that he will have the relationship with his daughters to be able to tell them if a young man is not worthy of them. How will you be able to lovingly prevent her from making a mistake if you take no special interest in your daughter until she is 13 and a young dropkick male comes to the door to collect your daughter for a date.

This lack of affirmation from fathers is a real problem. Dobson says that if fathers do not fill their responsibility then women carry a well of self doubt within them for a long time. Even successful women who appear to have built their own sense of self worth, if you look closely, still harbour anger and a secret desire to get affirmation from their fathers. They maintain that they do not need men and they are perfectly happy making their own life, however there is a lot of bitterness or disappointment when they speak of their fathers lack of care.

A lack of affirmation from fathers, I think, leads to two extremes. Firstly to women who need male praise so badly to feel worth anything that they sell themselves to the first (and every) smooth talking man they meet. The second extreme is feminists so hurt they keep men at arms length to prevent themselves from being disappointed again. This need of daughters to receive love, acceptance and affirmation from their fathers is another reason (as if we needed one) why parent/child abuse (particularly sexual abuse) is so evil and destructive.

There is good news though, because it is never too late to tell your daughters that you love them and especially why. Sincere, thoughtful compliments from men (fathers in particular) go a long way towards healing relationships and building self worth in a woman. If, like in some cases, there is a lot of hurt and damage, then it will take a lot of time and perseverance to win her trust again, however you can man up and take responsibility for the relationship.