Sunday, December 11, 2005


Millie was told by her Mum and it was reinforced by Grandma that she couldn't have a lolly until she had eaten her lunch.

A little later they spotted her standing over there, with her back to the two authority-figures. When they investigated, Millie had opened the lolly-wrapper (lolly = 'candy' for North Americans!) and the sweet was in her mouth.

Needless to say she lost the sweet, and was scolded.

How did she know she was doing wrong? Classical Western/Catholic theology teaches that she was born with 'Original sin', the stain of which is removed by baptism. Recently the Roman Catholic Church has removed Limbo (the place where babies go who were not baptized, to prepare them for heaven) from its teaching/dogma - not before time.

I have a problem with the idea of Original Sin and its concomitant Limbo, because they're ideas not taught specifically in the Bible. They are derivative, inferential, from other observed realities. I have problems with 'theology by syllogism' (see, for example, this article for more...)

Bella and Millie have been unwell in the last week. Yesterday Bella 'sicked up' on my Sunday best as we were taking them both to church (their mum and dad were getting ready for family-Christmas-lunch). Sometimes Millie says 'I'm actually feeling sick grandpa!'

Have I said Bella is progressing at a different rate from that of Millie? She gets up on her hands and knees, but doesn't yet crawl. Yesterday I found her sitting up in her cot: first time she's done that from a lying position. She occasionally makes a 'Dad... dad... dad' sound, but not much more in terms of specific 'baby-words'... Sometimes we've wondered if she will eventually 'get there' developmentally. She also has no signs of teeth yet. But when she smiles with a very big grin, and flaps her arms and legs excitedly in her high-chair waiting for food, she's so adorable!


Rowland Croucher

Saturday, December 03, 2005


This morning (Sunday December 4th) I wasn't preaching anywhere so I took Millie out for a couple of hours, attending a beautiful Advent service at the local Anglican Church (Christ Church Heathmont).

We sat at the back with some Sudanese children, and they made Millie very welcome. They helped her draw pictures, trace around her hand, and one of them, Alak, made up a colourful poster with this note: 'Dear Ron (the contraction of my name which I use in traditional cultures, or with folks for whom English is a second language) and Millie: It has been wonderful you coming to Heathmont. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas this year and every year. From Alak Nai'

Millie was intrigued with a Sudanese baby boy (Moses) a couple of rows away, and went and sat down next to him - then followed him around as he was passed from person to person!

During communion I took her forward, and the vicar (Rev. Janet Turpie-Johnstone) gave Millie a special blessing on her forehead and gently asked if it was OK for her to have a communion wafer. Of course it was - and because her parents attend a local Salvation Army church, this is probably the first time Millie has encountered communion.

In the children's talk and the sermon Janet spoke of desert-space and the importance of reflection (enriched no doubt by her part-aboriginal heritage...)

Next Sunday I'm also preaching on the theme of Advent, at South Yarra Community Baptist Church, and this morning was good preparation for that event.

When I'm out with Millie we can be sure to attract a lot of attention!

P.S. See our website for many articles about the situation in Sudan: these people have been through hell!


Rowland Croucher

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Millie seemed tired at mid-morning and Grandma asked: 'Are you tired Millie? What time did you get up?'

'Ten past o'clock!' she responded!

Bella's still not crawling... but it won't be far off!

We have a beautiful little routine/litany when Millie comes up the back steps: 'I'm here Grandma/ Grandpa!' We respond 'Who is it?' 'It's Millie!' (later she'll add 'Stupid!')

One of the beautiful habits is Millie's dancing and squealing when she sees us. Occasionally she'll say 'I'm so excited!'

Yesterday she dropped the last plate (a soup bowl) of a set we bought in the 1970s, and which has been to Canada and back. Jan picked her up quickly so she wouldn't tread on the pieces (she wasn't wearing shoes) - which gave her a double fright, and she cried very loudly (though briefly when he mum comforted her). So today I went to a couple of Two Dollar Shops to buy some nice dishwasher-proof plastic bowls and plates... And also some Santa Claus stickers she can peel off and play with.

Yesterday she was dancing along with the Wiggles and some little girls on the DVD. She suddenly noticed the little girls were wearing skirts. She had jeans. 'Where's my skirt?' she asked...

Millie loves grapes. They're down to $5-something a kilo so I bought some for her yesterday...


Rowland Croucher

Friday, November 25, 2005


Every parent compares the physical/linguistic etc. development of their baby with others' - or the 'average!' A parent's second-worst nightmare (after serious illness) is about her child not being able to do stuff well, particularly in our Western competitive cultures - but also in traditional societies where healthy children will be needed to help the family survive.

We've been wondering about Bella. She has a beautiful, easy, happy temperament, but she's 'behind' Millie's physical and verbal development at this stage. She rarely makes 'DAD DAD DAD' sounds, and has only in the last week got up on her hands and knees.

But the local infant welfare sister says she's OK, so we all have been reassured!

Millie, meantime, is a bright little person who needs a lot of stimulation - playing, reading, running, jumping (onto and over our lounge chair). She loves outdoors, so Jan and I have to think of toys she can play with on the upstairs verandah. A sand-pit's no good (the sand goes through the flooring and clogs up the roof/drainage), nor are small toys she can push through the railings... Quite a challenge! Last night we bought her a ride-in little car, and we'll soon probably reassemble the 'cubby-house' for her.

Phew! We get exhausted keeping up with energy of two little people. Jan is very tired and looking forward to holidays and a rest. So is John, their dad, who has to mind the kids every weekend morning until Amanda wakes up.

But we have no regrets: they're a joy to live with!



Friday, November 18, 2005


Millie loves playing with Rummycub numbers. She sorts them into colours, and other sequences, and puts them into little holders which come with that game. But the little holders have two ‘legs’ which we put in to keep them half-vertical, and when one of these came out and the little set-up collapsed, Millie got so angry that she swept everything off the table onto the floor all over the room!

Her grandma scolded her, and told her she would have to pick them all up.

A little later Millie asked ‘Are you sad grandma?’ Jan said, ‘Yes, and I'm also cross!’ Millie: ‘Are you bery cross grandma?’ ‘Yes I am very cross!’ Grandma had to turn away so that Millie would not see her smiling…

In a little while Millie picked them up, all by herself – quite a job for a little two-something year old!

This morning we were both cross again with Millie, who poked her finger into Bella’s face while grandma was reading them a story. It’s hard to share with your little sister-intruder… And later she threw a tantrum when her ‘high-rise’ pile of lego-blocks fell over!

Such is life!

But then, she and Lockie (our border-collie) and I went for a walk to the bush-trail nearby. She played 'peekaboo' behind the trees, and was quite intrigued by a couple of large fallen trees. 'Perhaps they're asleep Millie?' 'Shhhh!' she responded.


Rowland Croucher

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Millie was in front of her mum, and talking (which she does a lot of the time, and does very well). She reached up with both hands, grasped her mother's chin, looked into her face and asked 'Are you listening?' (Now where did she learn that?)

Bella was introduced to her other grandparents (the Southwells) today as the most relaxed baby in all our clan; Millie is the most dynamic personality of any of our two-year-olds!

Bella extends her arms sideways and 'flaps' them when she's excited - together with kicking her legs. This happens especially when she wakes up and sees one of us, or is being fed!

Millie loves hide'nseek: she hides her face, and counts to ten, while the other person runs and hides. Then she excitedly comes looking. Talking about excitement, yesterday I said to her parents (in Millie's hearing) 'I'll take the dog for a run around the block eh?' Millie immediately ran for her shoes and brought them to me and said 'Millie's excited!' I had no idea she knew the expression 'around the block' and of course she expected to come too - like she's done other times!

Each time she comes up the stairs we call out 'Who is it?' 'It's Millie!' she cries out excitedly. She now regularly asks 'Upstairs?' to her mum and dad (we're chuffed that she loves coming to visit us!)

I'm about to start another Blog on some of my reminiscences. Watch for it! (But for a reason which may or may not surface, I'm not putting my name on it).


Rowland Croucher

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Millie went to a picnic on Melbourne Cup Day last week, and was scratched from gravel, and bitten by some bugs, and needed two bandaids to soothe her pain (and feelings). Next morning Jan was changing her nappy/diaper when she said 'I'm not happy Grandma!' Aren't little people beautifully honest?

For those of you who are Oz-ignorant, the Melbourne Cup is an annual horse-race which stops the whole nation: kind of equivalent to the English Darby/Epsom or whatever it is (I'm not knowledgeable about these things). When a horse-race appears on the news, Millie has to jump off our lap or wherever she is and 'ride' on her 'big bear' (which I bought for her at a Salvation Army Thrift Shop).

Millie's happy now, particularly with an extended verandah to play on.

But Bella isn't smiling so much: she has a cough and runny nose, and maybe some sinus (it's hay fever time in Melbourne). Bella, we're learning, hates a lot of noise, and gets cranky in crowds. Millie likes to go to sleep with music, and Bella doesn't: now there's a challenge for parents whose kids sleep in the same room! But they both love soft music when they're awake...

Millie can now count to 15, she can do a 15-piece jigsaw by herself, and stayed with a little friend and her mum alone the other early evening while her mum played netball. First time - and she didn't fret. (However, the next day when her mum was leaving her to go downstairs she put on a tantrum, and wanted to be with her... ).

Millie while playing near us will suddenly say 'Hello Grandma' or 'Hello Grandpa'. Just to be happy/nice! Isn't that cute?

I woke yesterday with a bad dream. I was in Leeds, England, and some homeless men abducted Millie. As I woke I was figuring out how I could quickly do a metamorphosis to become a homeless person to find her. I didn't go back to sleep after that!



P.S. Here's the wedding talk I gave at Bella's and Millie's mum's and dad's wedding 10 and a half years ago. I'm adapting it for a wedding I'm about to perform today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


We love having a little family downstairs (last night's walk to see the moon with two year old granddaughter Millie was a special part of the day...

Thich Nhat Hanh was with a friend who had a young family, and asked him how difficult family life was. Not giving a direct answer, the man noted that he used to divide his day into time spent with his son or daughter, time spent with his wife, and time for household tasks or work. Whatever was left over was 'his time'. But then he tried to think of the moments he spent with others as his time too, instead of wishing that he was doing something else. The surprising result, he discovered, was: 'I now have unlimited time for myself!'


Millie rarely has tantrums with us (we nip 'em in the bud quickly), but sometimes when she wants more of her mother she sets up a squealing show! (Isn't it interesting that a two-year-old doesn't know any shame over such antics :-)!


I came out late the other morning after sleeping-in, and Millie asked 'You awake grandpa?' Good question!


We've just complete an extension to our side verandah, with gates fitted. Millie and Bella will love it in the summer-time...


We're trying to teach Millie not to scare the birds (rainbow lorikeets, doves, crimson rosellas etc.) which come and feed on our back verandah... I think it's working (but wait until summer-time at the beach: will we let her chase seagulls? Probably!)


We're also trying to teach her not to empty the bag of toys all over the floor. She was scolded for this the other, ran to her room, put a dummy in her mouth, and flopped on to the bed. But she soon came out to help us clean it all up (though somewhat reluctantly).


Bella's asleep ('Shhhhh' says Millie of anything that's gone to sleep - the moon, the cars in the garage, the birds in the trees last night...) Bella's her usual adorable, smiling, uncomplicated self...



Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Millie's becoming more affectionate lately. Her love-language is probably not 'touch', and up until now she stays on one's knee for a short while only, before wanting to resume her play. But now she runs up to me with her arms in the air for a cuddle.

Sesame Street is helping her learn lots of numbers and letters: she goes to find the plastic version of each to play with while the show is on.

And when people are dancing she copies them: she's a 'natural'!

A new play area is being constructed at the side of our place - a nice sheltered balcony. A large tree from next door (our son's place) will come down soon to give that area more warmth and light.

I took her to the church play-group today (her mum and dad are sick with a gastric bug, which Millie had a few days ago; and Jan has a cold). We had a lovely time. I learned that up to 3 or 4 most children engage in either 'solitary' or 'parallel' play in groups: that explains quite a bit...

Bella is still her uncomplicated little self: lots of smiles and occasional giggles. When one of us goes in to pick her up she coyly turns her head to one side then the other. Very cute!

She'll be crawling soon.

P.S. If you stumbled across this Blog by accident, learn more about us at


Rowland Croucher

Monday, September 12, 2005


Today Millie and I had a couple of beautiful hours together. I took her to Knox Shopping Centre, and we rented a yellow car for her to 'drive' (she chose the colour).

First she explored the children's playground, then we did some shopping, then she had a ride on 'Blinky Bill'...

For lunch she had a good meal of pasta, cheese, topped off with a Ribena (apple & blackcurrent) drink...

On the way home she listed all the special 'people' she would soon meet - 'Mummy-oh', 'Grandma', Lockie and Tear (the dogs)...

It was a beautiful time. And her new word is 'picnic'...



Thursday, September 08, 2005


I've been away speaking at back-to-back conferences for about six weeks, and I think Millie has missed me.

In fact she's been grieving for a couple of weeks now - especially over the attention we've had to give to her little sister-invader. For a while Millie expressed herself by occasionally attacking Bella, and we've had to strongly restrain her. It's tough disciplining someone who's been the centre of four grown-ups' attention for so long eh?

Millie seems to be over that now, and she readily goes to her little sister and gives her a hug and kiss. Phew!

It's Springtime and the days are getting warmer, and Millie points out the beautiful wattle trees to us.

Two days this week I took her for a walk by the creek - once with Bella. Millie spent about 15 minutes just dropping pebbles into a muddy pond and was fascinated by the ripples. Isn't it wonderful how little people can enjoy simple things which we adults take for granted? We have little routines when we walk: one of them is to look through a hole in a neighbour's fence at the small dog yapping at us. Another fascination is with her shadow... And most times we take some bread to feed two ducks which we let loose into the creek - Caramello and Cinnamon. These ducks are always in the same area of the creek, and have become a neighbourhood fascination. They're quite unlike any of the native varieties!

And then when she's tired, it's 'Grandpa carry me?'

Yesterday her cousin Will came to play with her for an hour. Millie loves Will, who draws pictures and sits on the floor looking at books with her. But when Will left Millie was upset - and as she sometimes does when feeling this way, ran to her upstairs bedroom and hid behind the curtain. Hard lessons for the little one!

She can communicate just about anything to us these days. 'Grandpa, I don't feel well' yesterday. Occasionally she looks up at one of us and says lovingly 'Hello Grandpa' or 'Hello Grandma' with heaps of love in her eyes.

Today while shopping I bought her favorite fruit - watermelon, and some 'Tiny Teddy' biscuits which she loves.


Bella is getting more and more beautiful, still smiling all the time, but these days shaking her head from side to side. Very cute! She's the least complicated baby we've had among our four children and six grandchildren. Today it was mild outside, so I sat with her for a while on the back verandah in the shade. I read, while she was in the rocker next to me playing with her soft toys.

She can now roll over easily, and doesn't mind doing 'push-ups' for a couple of minutes!

'Lord, may their respective guardian angels do a good job of protecting them please. Thank you. Amen.'

If you haven't visited our websites why not? It's


Rowland Croucher

Monday, August 01, 2005


And she's developing a more independent will! She knows now how to get our attention - verbally, and occasionally with a tantrum.

We went for a walk the other day, but it was only half our longer route. She wanted to cross the road and walk by the creek, but we didn't have time. I told her we were going home but she stood fast on the footpath ready to cross the road. I had to ask her again, then go and hold her hand to resume our journey!

Another day I told her not to touch the powerpoint, but a little later after my back was turned she moved behind a nearby curtain touching it again!

The other day I kissed her grandma (wy wife Jan) and she asked 'Kiss for Millie?'

Last week she hit someone at Playgroup for the first time, and had to be disciplined. And she's beginning to act like 'Grandpa's special little girl.' A couple of days ago I sat in a chair near her mum who was reading Millie a story. Millie climbed down from her mother's lap, came over to me, and asked for some of my fruit juice - as if she has an equal right to it as I have! She does the same when I cut up a banana to put on my muesli: Millie now wants a few slices for herself! That's what little granddaughters have a right to eh?

A favorite conversation: 'Millie, what colour are grandma's eyes/Bella's eyes... etc.? To which she replies in a full sentence: 'Bella's got brown eyes...' etc. She's now up to five and six-word sentences.

For her birthday she was given a quite large kitchen setup (with pots that make a sizzling noise when put on to the hotplate!) and (plastic) crockery set from Toys'RUs... no doubt she'll play with this for years to come.

I'm traveling interstate for a series of conferences this month, and she looks mystified when I say good-bye to her and we tell her I'm going away on a plane.

BELLA. Many mornings I go downstairs to pick up Bella, to bring her up to her Grandma, and even when she's drowsy she'll manage a smile.We think both our little ones are teething - dribbling, fist in mouth, a little cranky, etc.

Bella can now turn herself over when we lie her on the floor: we have to be constantly vigilant. She can now lift her head when we put her into a rocker. I was walking with Bella recently and a friend asked to cradle her, and Bella smiled as usual. Then the neighbour pretended to drop her - let her go and caught her an inch down. It's a long time since I've seen someone do that to a baby, and I wonder about it... but Bella took it in good heart. She's a verysecure little person.

Two nights ago she had her first 'solid food' - farex mixed with formula. The little one didn't know what to do with it in her mouth, but some of it went down.

I was in Adelaide this past weekend and missed both of these beautiful little ones, but today I was 'on duty' with them and their mother while Jan visited the prison. A beautiful day...

Shalom! Rowland.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Bella is the happiest baby we’ve experienced: except for when she’s tired, uncomfortable, or hungry she smiles all the time (why aren’t they all like that?)

Shalom! Rowland

Monday, July 04, 2005


Our near-two-year-old has developed some amazing language skills (that's what should happen I guess from having four teachers as her carers!). Not only has she copied some of our exclamations ('Hear it!' when the grey butcher-bird sings or 'Exciting!' when the Wiggles DVD is about to play or of course 'Peekaboo!') but she can put a subject-verb-object sentence together.

Like: 'Grandpa going to sleep?' 'Mummy eat grapes?' 'Grandpa pick up teddy?' And her mimicking of our commands to the border collie Lockie: 'Lockie, stop it!'

How about this: 'Millie adorable!' 'Mummy adorable?' 'Grandma adorable?' 'Keys adorable?' Which led to an animal/vegetable/mineral lesson...

Richard Rohr in his brilliant book 'Everything Belongs!' talks about 'kinesthetic knowing.' Both our little girls are very secure because they are regularly hugged, and kissed, and taken for walks...

Millie is a natural humorist. She bumped her nose on a door and cried a little. Later, she crawled back to the offending spot, and touched it with her nose!

And she loves dancing - especially to the Dorothy the Dinosaur song (from the Wiggles). Isn't it amazing how little people don't have to be taught to make graceful bodily dancing movements?

Two nights ago she was off her food. Although she'd been nauseous earlier in the day she didn't 'act sick', so we encouraged her to eat, and she bravely tried... and ate half her meal... But later she vomited it all up. We felt really bad...

But the highlight of our life at the moment is when Millie looks up at us and smiles to us - for no reason at all! Magical!

And Bella? She's the most contented, smiling baby we've known. Uncomplicated.

They're both a joy to us, but tire us old folks out sometimes. Which is why a four-day break last week was most enjoyable.



Thursday, June 02, 2005


Little people live in a high-risk world. One common problem is drawers and doors and little fingers.

We have the doors and drawers in the kitchen tied up so she can't open them (inconvenience for the rest of us) but we're teaching her to be careful. Every day there are new lessons about the log-fire (even though it is a closed heater - and with a protective cage-thing around it).

This morning she was in our bathroom, and she got her fingers caught in the cupboard door. Fortunately the door was light-weight, and it didn't hurt too much. But grandma and grandpa (me) and her mum had to kiss her fingers better before she settled!

She has many many words now, and can recognize quite a few letters of the alphabet (she's now 22 months).

The other day she came up to the lounge-chair where he mum was sitting and said 'Scuse me!' and clambered up next to her. (That's her mum's favorite expression when a little person invades her space!).

Sometimes when we tell her 'You're beautiful!' she points to her chest and says 'Gorgeous!'

And when we move from one place to another she has to say 'Bye bye' to lots of people/things - ducks, trees, the plane overhead, whatever comes into her mind...

And little sister Bella is growing into a beautiful happy baby - lots of smiles when she's happy, sleeps all night most nights, and very strong and wriggly when she's hungry!

They tire us out (we're going away for a week soon - can't wait) but we love them both dearly!


Rowland Croucher...

BTW, feel free to drop me an email anytime!

Monday, May 23, 2005


Tonight Millie and Bella brought their parents up to our flat for dinner, and afterwards Millie and I went for a little walk outside to find the moon.

It was a full-moon - beautiful! The waning crescent moon is a 'baby moon' and tonight's was a 'daddy moon' and as it sailed upon cloudy seas, we were both entranced.

Millie's teething, and it's not easy for her. She can now tell us where it hurts - her jaw and her head - and when she was given a little baby-prescription pain-killer she was sparky again within ten minutes.

They're both sleeping up with us tonight, as last night was awful for Millie and her parents.



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Jesus' teaching about Children

Richard Rohr, in his brilliant book Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer writes: 'Jesus uses the image of a child to teach "beginner's mind." A child is one without ego identity to prove, project, or protect. Little children are not protecting identity yet. They know kinesthetically and respond to what is, not what should be or might be. That's why they cry and squeal with pleasure so much... When they see a little animal, they don't have to filter it through their heads and check to see if they like it. Nor do they ask if it is dangerous... If only we could receive reality so immediately and so spontaneously, without our adult judgments and calculations. Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.'

That's our Millie! This morning she watched The Wiggles and Bananas in Pyjamas and danced with delight. Interesting that she doesn't have to be taught to move her body/arms/legs - she does it spontaneously and gracefully...

And her words... She can say the name of her little friend - Victoria - perfectly! She repeats the last few syllables of everything we say to her. And she's so cute when she says 'Bye Bye' to anything/anyone (rabbit, bear, grandma) when she leaves a place. A flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew overhead when we were walking yesterday, and when they'd gone she said 'Bye Bye Cockatoos!'

Small things are 'baby' things. Look at the little plane Millie! To which she responds 'Baby plane.' I think I've written about her 'baby moon!'

She's learning about 'time out' - when she hits the baby or our house guest's little dog. She sits with her mother in the darkened hallway, and is rebuked. She understands. But she asks for 'Daddy', 'Lockie' - or even 'Bella', the baby, to rescue her!

At present she's away with her mum at the church's playgroup: she loves it!



Sunday, May 08, 2005


Millie has lots of words. I've now been back home from a 3 1/2 week trip to the U.S. and we've settled back into our little routines. (At first she was very serious in my arms - not used to my going away like that).

We went for our walk this morning - a beautiful autumn morning - and she said 'Bye Bye bunny' to one of her cuddly toys. She greets the dogs: 'Hello Tear. Hello Lockie!'

She now has a habit of repeating the last few syllables of everything we say. 'No moon!' (but the other day we could see the moon in daylight, and I said 'It's a small moon', to which she replied 'Baby moon!') 'Two birds!' 'No cat today...'

We greeted a neighbor, and when we'd finished talking I said we're going to watch Bananas in Pyjamas on TV, and Millie told her the characters - 'Nunu' (sp?) 'Morgan' 'Rat'...

This morning her grandma gave her a little basket to store some doggy-shapes in. She took them out, looked at the wicker basket, and said 'oval'! Someone's taught her the difference between 'round' and 'oval'. Did I say before that she can count to ten?

Bella's very much part of our lives now, and Millie's not so aggressive with her little sister. We try to give them each the same attention, so Millie knows she's loved too, even though there's this little occasionally squawking invader in her life who demands our attention.

But she's a contented little one, with lots of smiles if she's not tired or hungry. We are truly blessed having such gorgeous babies in our home.


Millie's and Bella's Granddad!

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I'm writing this from a public library in Chicago.

When I'm away I try to contact my wife Jan (Amelia's grandma - one of them, that is, the one I've been married to for 45 years) and get an update on the Little One!

She can't understand why I'm not around. I hear she was 'stroppy' for a couple of days after I left, and last night Jan tells me she was awake at 3 pm crying. We don't know if there's a connection with my absence, but there might well be. How's a little 20 months-er supposed to understand that her grandpa's gone missing?

I pray for her, and the rest of the family, every day.

And I can't wait to have her run into my arms again! This business of travel has lost its lustre, I'm afraid.

'Lord, may Millie's and Bella's guardian angels continue to do a very good job, please! Amen!'



Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Today I leave for the U.S. to attend some conferences (and lead workshops at one of them). It will be the longest Millie and I will have been apart, and we will miss each other.

Right now she's having her weetbix for breakfast: which today she asked for. There are some beautiful little routines associated with breakfast. Jan sings 'Thank you for the world so sweet' and Millie sings 'Hum hum!' 'Thank you for the food we eat' and she sings 'Yum yum!' 'Thank you for the birds that sing!' 'Alingaling!' 'Thank you God for everything!' 'Amen'. And she looks coyly/shyly sideways at me!

She has something in each hand to play with while she eats. and she knows she can't have her precious grapes (just a few) until she's had her cereal.

Another routine happens when she's sad or frightened or hurt. She wants her 'Mummyoh' and three dummies for comfort - one for her mouth, and one in each hand! She needed them the other day when her head got stuck in the banisters above the steps from our place.

I'll take her in a few minutes for our little walk, and again as we turn for home she'll mention the main characters from her precious 'Bananas in Pyjamas', beginning with Morgan! She watches that TV show on the ABC each morning, and a couple of others - the ration is 30-40 minutes of TV a day.

She's so beautiful! I'll miss her. I just prayed that the Lord would tell her guardian angel to do a good job while I'm away!



Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Amelia is 19 months, and can say three syllable words ('Toria' for her friend Victoria, at playgroup).

She is also testing the limits of grandparental authority. We have a fireplace (surrounded by a child-proof guard), but kindling-sticks are in a large black bin. She can reach into this bin and get some sticks out of it - dangerous if she pokes one into her eye, or hits baby Bella with it. So her grandma asked her to put it back. She went to the bin, and stood there, testing grandma's authority. This stage of a child's psychological development is cute isn't it!!!

Bella is beautiful, in her own way. She's feeding well, sleeping well most nights, and has just begun to smile at us. Jan has more to do with her than I do, so far, but I try to talk to her and touch her whenever there's an opportunity (and she's awake).

This all has to be done sensitively, as Amelia still resents this little invasion into her privileged world!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Grandpa's Hands

Bella is now almost four weeks old, and I'm sure she smiled at me today as we sat on our back verandah. She's a good baby, healthy, and one of the joys of the past week was to cradle her to sleep, and then I had to write in a book I was reading with my left hand, 'cos I didn't want to wake her up.

Big sister Millie is now 19 months, and saying a lot of two-syllable words. When we walk together (most days) she talks a lot now. We still look for the moon, acknowledge the sound of planes and birds, say the colors of roses in our neighbor's gardens, and laugh at the dog as he chases a soccer ball. When a dog barks she points in that direction and says authoritatively 'Stop!'

And one of her favorite requests - 'Up please!' when she wants to be picked up!

(Have I told you she's gorgeous?)
Here's something posted on to a newsgroup today:

Grandpa's Hands

Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.

When I sat down beside him he didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat the more I wondered if he was OK. not wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK.

He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking," he said in a clear strong voice."I didn't mean to disturb you, grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK" I explained to him.

"Have you ever looked at your hands?" he asked.I mean really looked at your hands?"I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related this story: "Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. "

"They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler and I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots."

"They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life. They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. "

"They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son."

"Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle."

"Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friends foot."

"They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand."

"They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer."

"These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ."

I will never look at my hands the same again.But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa's hands and led him home.When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I think of grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel his hands upon my face.

(Reproduced with the permission of the author - Melinda Clements)

Sunday, February 20, 2005


On Friday, while my wife (Rev. Jan Croucher) was conducting a funeral, I spent an hour and twenty minutes with our 18-month-old granddaughter.

Part of it was both of us lying next to each other on a lawn under a tree, talking about birds, and planes, and the sky and the clouds, and lots of other things...Special!

I had too little time to do that with our eldest two children...

Yesterday (Saturday) Amanda and John brought their new arrival (Bella) home. There were pink balloons in the trees and around the front of our place, and a large welcome sign on the front door.

But Millie found it hard: she had what is called (these days) a 'hissy' on and off yesterday.

Today she's settled a bit - I had another wonderful hour with her this afternoon. We'll have to give her at least the usual one-to-one time until she gets used to the idea that her mum is going to share her with another little one.

And Bella has been so good! She's asleep now in a cot in our bedroom.

Thanks for your prayers: we now have two special little people in our lives!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Tonight I am alone with the little one. We went for a little walk around our court (in Australia that's a cul-de-sac street - nice and quiet). We talked together about the black cat, and the roses, and the moon, and some birds...

Back home I sang her lullaby (Oh lula lula lula lula bye-bye), gave her a bottle of formula, kissed her, put her down, and without a murmur she snuggled into her bedding and was soon asleep.

None of our babies loved sleeping like this little one.

Her little sister is progressing well. Bella has blisters on her lips from feeding (common with new-borns). Amanda and John are getting excellent care at the maternity hospital.

Tomorrow we'll go again and visit...

Thanks to everyone who put comments here or sent emails of good wishes!

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Amelia's little baby sister, 'Bella Jayne' was born by caesarian section this afternoon (Monday 14th, 2.30 pm. PS Who'd go to the flower-shop on St Valentine's day????).

Amelia took us to the hospital later to view mother (Amanda), father (John) and the baby (who ignored us and slept for the 3/4 hour we were there).

Bella Jayne is 7 lbs 15 oz, very healthy, and very beautiful. We wondered if she'd compete in the beauty stakes with her big sister and we think she will! The main difference: she doesn't have as much hair as her 18-month-older sister.

Amanda and John are very happy, we're all relieved that everything went OK, and now we have Millie to ourselves for the week mum and dad are in hospital. (Yes, these days dads can sleep in the same room - John has a fold-up bed).

So join with us in prayers of gratitude - and pray that Millie won't miss her 'Mummy-oh' and 'Daddy-oh' too much.

I've rescheduled a lot of counselling from this week, so that I can spend quality-time with the little one. Tomorrow we plan to go shopping together.

God bless you all!

Rowland Croucher

Friday, February 04, 2005


Amelia will be 18 months old on the 8th February (just four days time); and six days after that - on Valentine's Day - her mum is due to have another little one.

Interesting question: Does Millie know? We've talked to her about the baby in mummy's tummy, and she's been a bit 'clingy' to her mum lately.

I took her with me - together with her uncle / our son Paul and Paul's youngest son Will (Millie loves cousin Will) - to the Vet for Will's kitten to get a booster something-or-other.

I sat with Millie in the car and we talked, and for the first time I can recall she looked serious after about 20 minutes and said 'Mummy'?

She's very clever (have I told you that :-)? She can now pick words she knows in our sentences. When she hears me coming up the passageway she runs and hides or plays with something, all excitedly.

Last night her dad washed her hair for the first time in six days: we hope the wound on her forehead has healed (the plaster is still there).

She's very beautiful!

Friday, January 28, 2005


We had a lovely holiday by the beach, near Eden in S. NSW. Millie enjoyed herself - and particularly loved the beach. Whenever someone would say 'beach' her little face would contort into delighted earnestness: 'Beach!' 'Beach!' she would repeat, looking at each of us.

It was lovely to see her relate so naturally to other small children. Little ones know they're safe with other little ones, eh?

She came out with lots of new words - 'truck', 'boat' etc.

And she has developed some cute new tricks... Like: when her Dad comes back from surfing, and invites her to run into his arms, she swerves past him and runs into mine, with a very cheeky look on her face.

She and I went for a walk every day. She loved those walks. I would talk with her, teach her new words, listen with her to the sounds (especially the birds)... Sometimes she would wander next to me, but soon she would say 'Up!' 'Please' (which sounds more like 'peas!') I think this is because she loves our talking together and being close... At other times when we're in a group walking she loves to toddle along with us...

One day she got frustrated with her little doll-in-a-stroller, 'cos the wheels got stuck in the sandy soil. So she fixed that by tossing the baby out, and wheeling the stroller without the doll!

Well, we're back home. She loves playing with a soft green bouncing ball, but in running after it sometimes falls over. Two nights ago she hit her head on a table-corner and it left quite a serious, bleeding wound. Fortunately her other grandfather is a family doctor, and he came buy to tend to the wound (which he said should really have a stitch in it). We now cannot wash Millie's hair for six days!

She's now more 'clingy' with her mum. 'Mummyoh!' she now calls out when she wakes. She might know that soon she will have a little brother/sister (on about 14th February)...

So yes, at 17 1/2 months, little Millie is as gorgeous as ever!