Friday, September 30, 2011

Repurpose Lego Sets with Rebrickable


This new website might be one to look out for on a rainy day. Rebrickable allows you to insert the code on various Lego sets you own, and it makes suggestions of other sets you may be able to build using your existing parts!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The riddle of the boy who grew overnight (and shrank the next day)


Do your kids ever seem to grow overnight? Do they ever have a growth spurt that leaves their clothes, which fitted perfectly the week before, looking far too small?

That’s what happened yesterday, when Benjamin came out wearing his “good” jeans, all ready to go out with his grandparents.  He seemed to have grown a couple of inches overnight. I have seen a few growth spurts in my time, but nothing like this. This was something else entirely.

I knew could discount the possibility that these jeans had shrunk in the last wash, because his younger brother has a pair too, and we know from experience that they are good quality clothing. In fact, we should probably have bought them two pairs each, because Jeremiah’s pair went missing yesterday.  As clothes do around here, you know. Anything from socks to jumpers can go missing or get mislaid. They have even been known to get put on the wrong hanger from time to time.

Well, the strangest thing happened this morning when we got ready to go to Church – Benjamin’s jeans fit him again! Amazing. Astounding, in a Shrinking of Treehorn sort of a way.

Oh, and another piece of good news – we found Jeremiah’s jeans this morning. But, there was a bit of a mystery there, too.  Although he hasn’t worn them since they were last worn, they really looked like they might have been worn by someone...

The mysteries of life, hey? It keeps things interesting :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Family games that avoid the screen…


Some good ideas for boardgames here, which I will post now and take another look  at in the lead-up to Christmas.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Give Them What They Really Need


In this post, Michelle from At the Well reminds us to focus on the big picture, rather than major on the minors. I think it’s a good idea to step back and do this every now and then!

Thanks to Susan for the link :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

FREE Homeschool Tips Ebook!


Smockity Frocks is offering a free e-book with over 50 pages of tips from a homeschool veteran of more than 11 years. Topics include:

  • Homeschooling Preschoolers
  • Homeschooling Older Students With Preschoolers Present
  • Scheduling
  • Curriculum Choices
  • Socialization

Read about it here:

Advice On Family Prayer from Matthew Henry


From the NCIFC blog:

On April 16,1604, Matthew Henry preached an abundantly practical sermon to the families gathered in his congregation. One part of the sermon was for equipping them for prayer in their households. Here is what he said:

Five things especially you should have upon your heart in your family prayer, and should endeavour to bring something of each into every prayer with your families:

1. You ought to make family-Acknowledgements on your Dependence upon God and his Providences as you are a family.

give unto the Lord the Glory due unto his Name;

Give honor to God as the Founder of Families by his Ordinance, because it was not good for man to be alone; as the founder of your Families by his Providence, for he it is that buildeth the House, and setteth the Solitary in Families. Give Honor to him as the owner and Ruler of families…

2. You ought to make Family-Confessions of your Sins against God; those Sins you have contracted the Guilt of your Family…

How sad is the Condition of those Families that sin together, and never pray together, that by concurring in Frauds, Quarrels and Excesses, by Strengthening one another’s Hands in Impiety and Profaneness, fill the measure of Family-Guilt, and never agree together to do any thing to empty it.’

And even Religious Families, that are not polluted with gross and scandalous Sins, yet have need to join every Day in the Solemn Acts and Expressions of Repentance before God for their Sins of daily infirmity. Their vain words, and unprofitable conversation among themselves; their manifold defects in relative duties, provoking one another...

3. You ought to offer up Family Thanksgivings for the blessings which you, with our Families, receive from God.

Many are the mercies which you enjoy the Sweetness and Benefit of in common; which if wanting to one, all the Family would be sensible of it. Hath not God made a Hedge of Protection about you and your houses and all that you have…

4. You ought to present your Family-Petitions for the Mercy and Grace which your Families stand in need of.

Daily Bread is received by Families together, and we are taught not only to pray for it every day, but to pray together for it, saying ‘Our Father, give it us’. There are Affairs and Employments which the Family is jointly concerned in the Success of, and therefore should jointly ask of God Wisdom for the Management of them, and Prosperity therein. There are family cares to be cast upon God, by Prayer, Family Comforts to be fought for, and Family-Crosses which they should together beg for the Sanctification and Removal of.

5. You ought to make Family-Intercessions for others also.

There are Families you stand related to, or which by Neighborhood, Friendship or Acquaintance, …utmost Corners of the Earth, and to them that are afar off upon the Sea.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson


We were asked recently if there are any good resources on biblical courtship, specifically for young men. Hence the number of courtship books and sermons that we have been ploughing through recently…and thanks to the Twiss family for lending us some. I have to admit that at this point I am yet to find anything specific to young men: if you have any thoughts let me know…we also need something more general which works for our Aussie culture.

Anyway, that leads us onto this book, which is Doug Wilson’s Her Hand in Marriage. It is a short book though it hits all the essential points that you would expect it to, in Doug’s trademark style. If I had one beef to pick with it, I would say that a few real-life examples would not have gone astray. There is a reasonable amount of material around about the theory of biblical courtship, but not enough stories of how families have actually gone about it. Not that we want to precisely copy the example of others , but it would be helpful to reflect upon their successes and mistakes. Nevertheless, it is a straight-forward book which is easy to read.

BTW, thanks to my Mum buying me this dvd for my birthday, I can tell you that the cover of this book features Vermeer’s “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window”. Maybe she is reading a letter from a suitor?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let them tend cows


In this post for the opinion pages of the New York Times, Meredith F. Small argues that instead of overloading small children with school work,  we should be giving them age appropriate tasks that contribute to the household economy and  help them to master life skills. I like it :)

Thanks to Althouse for the link.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Last hurrah at Borders


When I was a little boy we would sometimes meet my father in the CBD after work, and he would take us to Haddons Bookshop which specialised in children’s books. A couple of years ago we started our own family tradition which was very similar: every now and then on a Saturday morning we would head into town, go to Borders for a coffee and then a wander around. Each child would be allowed to choose a book.

Last Saturday was the last hurrah for this family tradition, which will (hopefully) be remembered by at least some of the older children. Borders is closing down. Yes, even the big bookstores in Australia are now closing. The  trend which was depicted in this terrible movie has now come to an end, as a decline in reading and the shift to e-books seems to be taking a toll.

By way of consolation, we had Yum Cha after visiting Borders for the last time, and then managed to find a few absolute bargains in the State Library’s bookstore:

The kids books are all 50c at this bookstore and a lot of them are in almost mint condition, apart from the library stickers, etc.


Speaking of parenting…

In this post, Kevin DeYoung provides a great defintion of parenting, from Andrew Ferguson:

You fulfill yourself by denying yourself, preparing the people you can’t live without to live without you.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a funny picture too?


Dealing with quarrels


Have you checked out the Doorposts blog yet? We are keen on their materials and this post about dealing with quarrels will give you a great excuse to head over there and have a look. This type of training is time-consuming but I feel that it will bear fruit in the long run.


Hospitality and small children


In the post below, Abigail speaks about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home, and provides 8 insights to keep in mind. I particularly liked the one about expecting everything to go wrong, because it will :)


Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Before you meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally


This is a wonderful book written to encourage young women to live their lives with purity and integrity. Each chapter begins with an ongoing story of a fairytale princess and her longing to meet her own prince charming which makes it a particularly enjoyable book to read. I found it be a very thorough book covering the basics of guarding your heart, respecting parents, reserving yourself for one and more - but it maintains a lovely innocence, so I felt quite happy allowing our eldest daughter (almost 12) to read it all. I really appreciated the author’s detail in explaining how God expects a young lady to guard her mind and encourages her to consider a life purpose bigger than marriage.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Definition of a pay phone


A 9 year old’s definition of a pay phone:

“One of those places where you call numbers”

Friday, March 11, 2011

8 Tips for talking to kids about the sermon


In this post, Joe Holland has written a brief guide on how to talk to your kids about a sermon, including 8 handy tips.

What I would also like to know is; how do you discuss a sermon that was doctrinally incorrect or misleading with your children, without undermining the authority of the preacher? Maybe I’ll give it some thought and write down my ideas…


When Children Played


I’m not exactly sure why I enjoyed this post from The Thinking Housewife so much; perhaps because I was thinking of Patrice’s review of Free Range Kids? I think that the kids in this photo would probably have enjoyed playing with whatever they could get their hands on, and may also have been good at inventing games using their imagination.


Husbands: Headship Means Taking the Lead in Reconciliation


In this handy post, John Piper explains why leadership in the home means that husbands should take the lead in reconciliation. It’s a timely reminder and speaks of the sacrificial love and humility that men need to demonstrate.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for extracting this from John Piper’s sermon and posting it.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy


The subtitle of this book summarises it's content well:  “How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)”. Skenazy challenges how much we, the parents, need to control our children’s environment in order to keep them safe; challenging the concept of “helicopter parenting”. The writing style is very easy to comprehend (something I appreciated in my sleep-deprived state) and she has plenty of thought-provoking real-life stories as well as plenty of humour.

The book is written in two parts; the first part outlines her ‘Fourteen Free-Range Commandments’ and the second addresses specifics concerns and statistics. My favourite of her ‘commandments’ was number eight, ‘Study History: Your Ten-Year-Old Would Have Been Forging Horseshoes (or at Least Delivering Papers)’. She contends that children are built to survive. Throughout human history kids and adults worked side by side, so your ability to perform a task rather than your age determined whether you could do it or not.  I also appreciated commandment ten, ‘Get Braver: Quit trying to Control Everything. It Doesn’t Work Anyway.’ As a bit of a control freak I really liked her reminder that if even if we manage to solve all of our children’s problems we are actually doing them a disservice, because we are taking away their real source of confidence and independence. She also claims that worry is another form of control - ouch!

The end of each chapter has some specific ideas about how to implement the principles in your own home ranging from simple ‘baby’ steps to ‘giant leaps’ and they have certainly provided me with some positive actions to put into practice. I was reminded that I should be proactive - teaching children the things they will need to survive such as bike safety, traffic signals and how to handle disappointment, as they are an inevitable part of life.

As with most books, I don’t agree with all her conclusions and some questions were raised in my mind about her statistics. She has a whole chapter about safety-concerns around Halloween, which is mostly irrelevant here in Australia, but I don’t agree with her premise that Halloween is a “harmless” childhood activity. She also has a brief discussion about teen s*x, quoting none other than Planned Parenthood advising parents to begin talks with your pre-teens using their “Abstinence Plus” approach. I don’t agree with her advise - let’s just leave it at that! My question about her statistics relate to those which demonstrate that crimes against children have declined since the early nineties. Is it possible that the drop in crime is related to the fact that we have been ‘sheltering’ our children more?

Those objections aside, I’d recommend this book as an interesting perspective on our safety-conscious culture. Her analysis of the media, particularly TV, was especially thought-provoking. It has reminded me that in my desire to protect my children I need to focus on the real dangers that will corrupt their minds and hearts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tolstoy on fathers, education and moral training


I love this scene from Anna Karenina, where Levin visits Lvov, and they get into a conversation about fatherhood, education, moral training and the role of religion. Lvov’s humility and commitment to the task at hand are an inspiration! 

"That's what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these interesting scientific circles," he said. And as he talked, he passed as usual into French, which was easier to him. "It's true I haven't the time for it. My official work and the children leave me no time; and then I'm not ashamed to own that my education has been too defective."

"That I don't believe," said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he always did, touched at Lvov's low opinion of himself, which was not in the least put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was absolutely sincere.

"Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate my children I positively have to look up a great deal, and in fact simply to study myself. For it's not enough to have teachers, there must be someone to look after them, just as on your land you want laborers and an overseer. See what I'm reading"--he pointed to Buslaev's _Grammar_ on the desk--"it's expected of Misha, and it's so difficult.... Come, explain to me.... Here he says..."

Levin tried to explain to him that it couldn't be understood, but that it had to be taught; but Lvov would not agree with him.

"Oh, you're laughing at it!"

"On the contrary, you can't imagine how, when I look at you, I'm always learning the task that lies before me, that is the education of one's children."

"Well, there's nothing for you to learn," said Lvov.

"All I know," said Levin, "is that I have never seen better brought-up children than yours, and I wouldn't wish for children better than yours."

Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but he was positively radiant with smiles.

"If only they're better than I! That's all I desire. You don't know yet all the work," he said, "with boys who've been left like mine to run wild abroad."

"You'll catch all that up. They're such clever children. The great thing is the education of character. That's what I learn when I look at your children."

"You talk of the education of character. You can't imagine how difficult that is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency when others crop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a support in religion--you remember we talked about that--no father could bring children up relying on his own strength alone without that help."

This subject, which always interested Levin, was cut short by the entrance of the beauty Natalia Alexandrovna, dressed to go out.


Joel Beeke on Leading Family Worship


At Desiring God’s recent 2011 conference for Pastors, Joel Beeke gave an extremely encouraging and practical address on leading family worship. To date, it is probably the most comprehensive message I have heard on the subject.

Topics addressed include:

  • The Necessity of Family Worship

  • The Duty of Family Worship

  • The Implementation of Family Worship

  • Objections to Family Worship

  • Motivations for Family Worship

I heartily recommend this message to you: it can be viewed or downloaded (for free) at the link below.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The rocking chair

Here are a couple of snaps of the rocking chair which my Mum recently recovered and gave to us. It’s a beauty; a family heirloom which has now been passed down to the fourth generation!

  DSC_0444  DSC_0446     


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Man Whisperer or True Woman?


In this post at Unlocking Feminity, Gabrielle Pickle writes a great review of a new book called The Man Whisperer, and explains the difference between a Man Whisperer and a True Woman:

The Man Whisper uses her femininity for her own gain to manipulate her man into acting like a man so she can have the relationship she always wanted.

True Womanhood uses her femininity to bring glory to God which in turn serves as a powerful call for men to rise up to be who God created them to be: masculine co-bearers of God’s glory.

Diana Waring’s History Revealed reading list

diana waring

While there is not an extensive list of living history books suggested within History Revealed, I have found a couple of resources which have been very useful.

The first one is Rainbow Resource Centre , which was recommended by Bill Waring after I asked the Waring’s for a reading list:

The other is Mary Collis’ Home School Favourites:

Both of these companies sell individual book titles and packages that are relevant to all three time periods. The Home School Favourites website has a very comprehensive review of each book she recommends, along with reading ages and a mention of any questionable content. We base our purchases and reading lists on a combination of all three resources.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Time dilation and late night feeds

time dilation

Strange things can happen during late night feeds.

Patrice says that she put an episode of My Three Sons on at the start of last night’s  late feed, but she only remembers the first few minutes before then seeing the credits roll at the end of the episode. 30 minutes had elapsed in what seemed like only 5 minutes. 

She put the episode back on from the start, and once again all  she remembers is the opening scene or two and then – BOOM! – the end credits. Again, 30 minutes had elapsed in what seemed like only 5 minutes.  This couldn’t be a glitch in the dvd player, could it?

Well, third time lucky.

This time, she settled herself down after changing a nappy and swapping sides. She distinctly remembers hitting fast forward, to get past the opening scenes which she had already seen (twice!), but then ended up straight back at the credits -  in what seemed like even less time than before.

What is going on, and how can we explain this strange phenomenon?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Modest Daughters


Doug Wilson offers up a frank opinion here about a very common problem in the Church, and a difficult subject to address: immodesty. He also covers three common problems with immodesty in women’s dress — too much, too little, and too tight.

Gregory Koukl: Sharing Theology with your kids


In this post, Gregory Koukl explains explains how he and his wife are applying theological content to the lives of their children in a variety of ways.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What are some effective ways to communicate love to your wife?

ring bible

In this post, Brian Croft shares five ways to communicate love to your wife, all of which share one common denominator…surprise for her and sacrifice from you.

The only “youth program” your kids need

Family of Four

In this article, Rev. Michael Brown shares some thoughts on what he says is the only “youth program” your kids need; family worship and catechesis:

Coming to Reformed Christianity, my wife and I not only learned the sobering truth about the means of grace and what actually happens during the Divine Service on the Lord’s Day, we also learned about the vital importance of regular family worship throughout the week. Clearly, this was a practice far more biblical (and historical) than the compartmentalized, hustle-bustle of a busy week at church. The ancient paths God carved out for families to walk in long ago were new to us. We learned how he designed the family to be a worshiping unit, an entity that would engage in prayer, praise and instruction in the course of ordinary, daily life. We learned how Christian parents have the covenantal responsibility-both toward God and their children-of bringing up their little ones as disciples in the historic Christian faith. Suddenly, all those passages about training up your children began to come into color.

Read more here: