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More RSS feed stuff
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (02.29 on Saturday, 1st of March, 2008) |  permalink  |  2 comments
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Jo & I now have separate RSS feeds for those that are interested. If you still want to get both our news in the one feed then don't change anything. But if you append :

?author=matt

or

?author=jo

on the end of the feed URL then you'll just get Jo or my news in your RSS feed. I've actually done it so that Jo & I can have our own notes in facebook (it imports our blog you see) and so that people will stop attributing Jo's posts to me.

How Connected are You?
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (11.17 on Thursday, 28th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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I was driving to my friend's house tonight, returning some things of theirs I have accumulated over the past couple of years, and it struck me that a good measure of how rooted you are in a community can be shown by how much stuff you have in your house that doesn't belong to you! (Assuming people have given/lent it to you and you haven't stolen it....)

Scarlett's vocab
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (11.25 on Tuesday, 26th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  4 comments
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Scarlett's vocabulary is coming on very well for a 19 month old - she has turned into a proper parrot - it is very easy to teach her nouns, verbs and adjectives. As Jo reported the other day she said 'Dadda kick ball' - her first 3-word sentence. She did say "Mmmm Cheese Stick" today but technically "Cheese Stick" should either be hyphenated or a compound word (Cheese-stick or Cheesestick) so I'm counting that as a 2-word sentence. Anyway, normal 19 month olds should be beginning to put 2 words together in a sentence and, looking at her health book, Scarlett can do almost all the stuff that the average 3 year old can do (from words to running steadily and building block size).

At 19 months Scarlett should know about 20 words. We thought she probably knew about 50 so we counted the words she knows - I think we got most of the ones she knows written down (words where she knew the meaning or the name of the object and could say it if we pointed to it, but not words where she was just repeating them parrot-style) and the total came to 150 without really scratching our heads.

So we're very proud to say that Scarlett knows 150 words, 3 sentences and only 1 expletive.

Don't use Bendigo Bank.
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (00.40 on Saturday, 23rd of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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Just going over my first Bendigo bank statement (my fringe benefit account) and they have charged me $1.50 just to do a balance inquiry. $1.50 just to find out how much is in the account. Except over the course of the past 3 months I've done it 7 times. That's $9.50 to display a number on a screen 7 times. I had no forewarning of that at all.

Then add the fact that they charge 70c for every EFTPOS transaction (debit card/switch purchase). That's another $12.60 in this bill. Credit transactions don't cost anything - so I'll be using those in future.

Then finally just to rub the salt in the wound they give you 2c of interest at the start of a new month and then remove it in the next transaction titled INT/FEES.

I can't work out whether that is because this is a business account (since it is related to the church - a portion of my pay goes in there and is tax free & GST/VAT reclaimable), as my Commonwealth account never has any of these fees, or whether Bendigo bank is just really bad value for money. If I wasn't leaving I would close this account in disgust - seriously - how do they get away with this?

A Proud Moment
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (01.41 on Friday, 22nd of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  3 comments
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I took Scarlett for her 18 month check-up with the health nurse today, and for the first time she was actually above the averages (height, weight and head circumference) for her age! I know this doesn't seem a big deal for most of you, but when you have a prem baby like we did, who has always been below the 'average' lines on the charts, these milestones are important! I'm so proud of her to have caught up after her difficult start in life. She's doing so well.
And one more thing - she said her first sentence yesterday - "Dadda kick ball!"

Leaving
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (03.21 on Sunday, 17th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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In 5 weeks time we'll be getting on a plane and doing the 22-hour journey from Australia to the UK for what might be the last time.

When we set out on our travels 2 and a half years ago, the leaving process was very different. We were leaving a place we had had enough of. We were on an adventure and it was exciting. We knew it wouldn't be forever and we'd see our loved ones again so it wasn't too difficult to leave them for a while.

This time I'm really struck by how different it feels to leave a place behind. I'm sad. Really sad. Considering we've only been here 2 years, I'm surprised at how sad I feel, and especially as the first year was no fun at all! But this last year has been great. Relationships have begun to blossom and friendships have deepened.

I feel like I have become more fully 'me' here in Geelong, Australia. We have had our daughter here, and we have become a family. It took a lot of effort to become integrated into a new culture, a new church, a new community, and now we are well-rooted, it's hard to pull up those roots and move on, especially as we may well never see many of these people again.

When you leave somewhere you are fed up with, you can't wait to get out of there, but when you leave somewhere you wanted to stay, you remember the place with such fondness it may not even be realistic!

This time I feel torn. I wasn't prepared to leave so soon.

For the Grandparents
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (08.29 on Thursday, 14th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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I have uploaded a couple of movies of Scarlett playing at home for the benefit of long-distance Grandparents!

This is Scarlett playing in her tent:

Scarlett and her Ark
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (06.40 on Thursday, 14th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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I'd just like to point out...
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (10.27 on Wednesday, 6th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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...that it's not the new operating system's fault that it takes ages for me to post pics on the website, it's just I'm not familiar enough with it yet to use it properly! Poor Ubuntu, and poor Matt, having to let me loose on the computer!

Teething Problems with the New Operating System
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (10.49 on Monday, 4th of February, 2008) |  permalink  |  2 comments
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Matt has installed a new operating system on my computer. It's supposed to make life easier for me, but it's taken me ages to get photos from the camera to Picassa to an export folder, to our server, then to our website! Bring back windows, all is forgiven!

We haven't posted any photos for ages (because of the above) so here's a few recent ones for you to enjoy:

Scarlett loves playing in the gravel, but mummy gets cross when she brings the stones inside the house!


Scarlett is beginning to pose for pictures!


She was sitting beautifully, but she's not quite patient enough to wait for me to take the picture before jumping down from the settee to have a look at the photo on the camera display!


Scarlett can say the word 'bike' better than she can ride it! She likes to get on and off, but hasn't quite got the idea of riding it anywhere yet.


Mummy and Scarlett catching the evening rays.


Just so Matt doesn't feel left out, here's one of him too!

Moving On
by Jo Parkins, 10 years ago (02.18 on Sunday, 20th of January, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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For those of you who haven't heard, we found out this week that we aren't able to renew our Aussie visas as we'd hoped, so we have to be out of the country by the end of March this year. As far as we know, we'll probably be heading back to the UK where we hope Matt can pursue ordination training (so he/we can lead a church one day) in September this year or next.

We are very sad to be leaving our Aussie home, friends and family behind. An announcement was made in church this morning telling them about our imminent departure, and many tears were shed! I was inundated with people wanting to put their loving arms around me and offer us comforting and encouraging words.

So, now we have to work out what to do with all our stuff that we have accumulated over 2 years, and we also need to find Matt a job and we need to find a new family home to go back to in the UK.

It hasn't been an easy week, holding the news in; I felt like a big wave came over me and flattened me! But I think the worst is over now the rest of church knows we're leaving and now they can help us prepare in the coming weeks and things won't feel so crazy.

So, onwards and upwards - who knows where we'll be this time next year!

And now I shall show you a more excellent way...
by Matt Parkins, 10 years ago (10.55 on Friday, 11th of January, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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"It is the observation of an ancient writer, that there have been from the beginning two orders of Christians. The one lived an innocent life, conforming in all things, not sinful, to the customs and fashions of the world; doing many good works, abstaining from gross evils, and attending the ordinances of God. They endeavoured, in general, to have a conscience void of offence in their outward behaviour, but did not aim at any particular strictness, being in most things like their neighbours. The other sort of Christians not only abstained from all appearance of evil, were zealous of good works in every kind, and attended all the ordinances of God, but likewise used all diligence to attain the whole mind that was in Christ, and laboured to walk, in every point, as their beloved Master. In order to this they walked in a constant course of universal self-denial, trampling on every pleasure which they were not divinely conscious prepared them for taking pleasure in God. They took up their cross daily. They strove, they agonized without intermission, to enter in at the strait gate. This one thing they did, they spared no pains to arrive at the summit of Christian holiness; "leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, to go on to perfection;" to "know all that love of God which passeth knowledge, and to be filled with all the fulness of God."

"From long experience and observation I am inclined to think, that whoever finds redemption in the blood of Jesus, whoever is justified, has then the choice of walking in the higher or the lower path. I believe the Holy Spirit at that time sets before him "the more excellent way," and incites him to walk therein, to choose the narrowest path in the narrow way, to aspire after the heights and depths of holiness, -- after the entire image of God. But if he does not accept this offer, he insensibly declines into the lower order of Christians. He still goes on in what may be called a good way, serving God in his degree, and finds mercy in the close of life, through the blood of the covenant.

"I would be far from quenching the smoking flax, -- from discouraging those that serve God in a low degree. But I could not wish them to stop here: I would encourage them to come up higher, without thundering hell and damnation in their ears, without condemning the way wherein they were, telling them it is the way that leads to destruction, I will endeavour to point out to them what is in every respect "a more excellent way."

"Let it be well remembered, I do not affirm that all who do not walk in this way are in the high road to hell. But this much I must affirm, they will not have so high a place in heaven as they would have had if they had chosen the better part. And will this be a small loss, -- the having so many fewer stars in your crown of glory? Will it be a little thing to have a lower place than you might have had in the kingdom of your Father? Certainly there will be no sorrow in heaven; there all tears will be wiped from our eyes; but if it were possible grief could enter there, we should grieve at that irreparable loss. Irreparable then, but not now. Now, by the grace of God, we may choose the "more excellent way."

John Wesley (1703-1791)

I've Been Reading
by Jo Parkins, 10 years ago (10.48 on Friday, 11th of January, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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I've just finished reading two books that made me think how fortunate I am to have been born into freedom. The first book is called 'Roots' by Alex Haley and is a story that traces the author's roots from present day (or near enough) America back through the generations to a tribe in Africa where his ancestors came from. The story starts by following a young boy as he grows up with his family in his village in Africa. He gets kidnapped and taken to America where he is sold into slavery. The main bulk of the book is about his life as a slave, and his children's children's lives as slaves. I have never before really considered what it must be like to be a slave - to be owned by another person. It cripples the soul. It was a stifling, meaningless existence, to serve a master who treated you as less than human. You were stripped of your dignity, your family, and your hope.
The second book I have been reading is 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini. The story is set in Afganistan and covers the events of the 1970s to present day. The book follows two Afganistan women who, though not officially slaves, have no freedom because they have been forced into marriage with a man who makes them stay at home and do as they are told or they get beaten. They live a life of repression and misery too.
The books are very well-written and have positive endings, so it's not all doom and gloom! I enjoyed the journey, despite a few tears along the way, and I'm glad there are writers out there who open the eyes of people like me who are privileged enough to be free.

New Years Eve Stinker
by Jo Parkins, 10 years ago (10.59 on Monday, 31st of December, 2007) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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It's been a scorcher of a day today, reaching 43.1 degrees Celcius with a heat index of 45C due to the humidity. The heat indoors gets pretty extreme too on days like these. I don't think we would have been able to stay at home if we didn't have the aircon in place - just in the nick of time! As it is, it's now 10pm, 35 degrees C outside and 28 degrees inside (in the rooms without aircon units). I washed my hands before making tea this evening and I couldn't keep my hands under the tap because the water was so hot - and that was the COLD tap! Scarlett had her bath as usual this evening but in cold water as the bathroom was too hot to put her into a warm bath. Crazy.
So, a hot new years eve at home for us tonight! And a happy new year to you all.

Going to the Park
by Jo Parkins, 10 years ago (23.01 on Sunday, 30th of December, 2007) |  permalink  |  Comments?
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Now Scarlett is a full-on toddler, we have to have at least one outing a day to prevent her getting cabin fever indoors, and usually we go to the shops or the park. She loves going to the park, and when I put her in the car or the pram she pipes up with 'park' 'park' 'park'! But the summer is making it a bit difficult to get out, and timing is everything. If it's forecast to be a hot day, and we're walking somewhere we have to make sure we're home before 9.30am otherwise we get heat exhaustion! Today was a success - it is forecast to reach 40degrees and Scarlett woke at 6.30am as usual and becasue it's going to be a hot one, we were breakfasted and dressed and on our way to the park by 7.30am! It was lovely. The air was still cool despite the hot sun, so we didn't overheat, and it was nice to be the first to say 'good-morning ' to the locals as they walked their dogs. We were home by 8.30am and matt didn't even know we'd gone - he was still asleep when we got back!

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