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TODAY’S INTENTIONAL LEARNING….2013.05.28

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One of the consequences of writing up Morse code on the whiteboard yesterday, is that today the serious play with that has begun. First it was helping a friend’s youngsters to write their names in Morse code. From there we moved on to Kira writing up all the dwarves (and a hobbit’s) names from “The Hobbit” in Morse code with determined dedication. And then I began to get children answering my requests of them in….you guessed it…Morse code! What have I started!!? LOL!

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We had a friend drop by with 3 of her littlies just as we were about to begin our bible reading time, so we pulled out some scratch paper, and pencils and textas to keep their hands busy and just absorbed them into the next portion of out together learning. Maddy read aloud a chapter of her choice from The Bible (Daniel), and (all) the wee ones got some more home training in how to work at sitting relatively quietly whilst Maddy read aloud and then we talked a little about the reading.

Most of what we would be doing for the rest of our intentional learning would have been a little harder for the little ones, so I improvised and asked various older bodies to pair up with younger bodies to help them write their name in English, and then to write them again, letter by letter, in Morse code. Cool fun!!  :)

Once we’d helped bundle the small visitors safely into their van for their journey home, we gathered at the dining room table again to pick up with the intentional learning for the day.

I asked Kira to read aloud for us the Weaver Bible lesson reading from yesterday (Joshua 4: 1-9), and we reviewed what we had learned/discussed from that reading.

We then read through today’s portion (A, B, and C) of Objective 1 in Social Studies, “How Civilisations Record History”. So we read and talked about the Minoan civilisation (during which I was astounded to find out how much my kids knew about the practice of bull-vaulting in the Minoan culture! Which was 100% more than I knew!), the Sumerian and Babylonian civilisations (reviewing our knowledge of ziggurats from previous studies and talking about the Tower of Babel which was most likely of ziggurat design), and the Egyptians. Later in the week we’ll do a related activity that will see most of the kids interpreting a short story into hieroglyph writing. That’ll be some fun for sure!  :)

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After this we moved on to our science topic for the day “Physical things are always happening” and Objective 1. For the littlies the objective was just to introduce the concept, for grade 4 level it is to work towards mastering that fact, for the older ones it is for review. We looked at rivers to illustrate the point (A, and B) and had very interesting discussions about what would happen if a river didn’t lay down silt as it flowed, what might the river look like if it never dispersed some of its load as it moved towards the sea…

Part of the lesson was looking into, or being reminded of the difference between normal conditions and predicted erosion and catastrophic conditions and unpredictable erosion. We got to revisit the topic of Mt St Helens (loved our time studying that a few years ago!) and be reminded of the “in our lifetime” evidence that supports the truth of a worldwide flood and of millions of years not being required in order to create something as awesome as the Grand Canyon for example. Just the right catastrophic circumstances. very cool! Later this week, or early next week there will be a project to complete (which I’ll try to take photo’s of) to go with this lesson. A nice, hands on, super tactile one…..   :)

We pushed through after this to fit in 15 minutes in the logic books for the older children, and I read a story to JJ and Jemima  whilst that was happening. I read “Follow Me” by Rick and Bronwyn Searle. A good story for the concept of generations, change over time, and regeneration. After that we popped the book/folder part of our education today to one side. Nuff done for this one day.

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We went on to get a number of tasks done around the house, Isaac has his drum lesson with his teacher, did some group planning for the next couple of weeks and our activities, dogs were walked, wood heater lit (!!), bread for the chooks collected from a friend (which netted Kira another 30 minutes in her L’s log book, and were pleased to finally welcome Bill home close to 8pm. Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.  :)

Today’s intentional learning….2013.05.27

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We’ve jumped back into some structured learning after returning from our time away in Apollo Bay last week. That time away was a wonderful time of rest, play, relating and celebrating, but, more on that in another post!  :)  This next month has been set aside to spend time working on a Weaver Curriculum chapter or two, so today we began the adventure!!

During breakfast Kira read aloud a chapter from the Bible of her own choice (it was in 2 Kings, and about Naaman). That led to discussion about the what was fair or unfair (according to our own perceptions) about generational curses, and from there about how these concepts worked throughout scripture. Fabulous and lively discussion! Jemima had moved to playing quietly on the floor with a box full of dice as we talked. An ideal choice!
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I then read aloud to the kids from “Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation”, about the life of Michelangelo Buonarroti. We looked at some pictures of his works of art, one by one, as I read about his life. We stopped along the way and made the connections with other people whom his life intersected, as we recognised names and places from previous studies (e.g. the famed Medici family). This topic was related to our launch into Chapter 3, of Volume 3 of the Weaver Curriculum. The kids just about collapsed with laughter when I read out to them about how he got sprung lying about a sculpture that he sold to a Cardinal in Rome, by the Cardinal himself. The Cardinal then demanded his money back, only to follow-up by sending for Michelangelo to come to Rome and put him up in his own palace. They loved the whole messed up turn of events!  :)

BTW, I highly recommend this book to anyone, homeschooling or not, who is a history buff and likes stories simply told, with lots of dots connected. You can read more about it here: http://www.greenleafpress.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=pubs_product_book_info&products_id=764

After taking a break to do our post-brekky chores and have personal devotions time, we gathered back at the well-worn dining room table again. I opened up my planning folder that holds the current Weaver chapter and accessories for that chapter (Day by Day ch, 7-12 Supplement ch, and Resources section for Vol 3). We then did the Bible lesson for the day (Joshua Ch 4, v’s 1-9), and we did an exercise to reinforce the lesson. One of the 2 primary foci of this chapter is memorials, and the bible lesson related to the stones that 12 of the Israelite men were instructed to pick up from the middle of the Jordan River as it was crossed, and the memorial created with those stones where the people camped on the other side. We talked about the importance of memorials, and the limits to their value according to what we do with them on an ongoing basis. We read this great quote taken from Clarke’s Commentary, which was included in the text of Ch 3,

“Yesterday has a meaning for today. Nations have strength in so far as they recall the experiences of the past. People who never look to the past with gratitude will find that the future will not be apt to look back to them with appreciation. It is not simply a matter of wisdom, but of duty, to keep alive the experiences of yesterday. After all, experience is a great teacher. The Hebrew people were always thrown back upon “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob””.

We talked about the theme throughout scripture of the importance of telling, and retelling, the history of God’s people and the things He had done for them. We talked about the monuments that we could think of from around Ballarat, and of the different reasons for monuments, and the fact that monuments are not always about things that are gone. And then came the exercise.

I had requested last night, that in the morning all the kids bring with them to the table, a stone each. We took those stones this morning, and placed them together in a pile in the middle of the table, on our marble cutting board. They are to be a memorial to the good thing that God has done for us in leading us to homeschool and to build a God-centred home, with a vision of maturing faithfulness for the generations yet to come. It will stay there for the week ahead, and then we’ll find a more permanent home for it. It’s only missing one stone from its construct, and that would be Bill’s stone. Looking forward to adding that to the memorial in the next day or so!  :)

We moved on from there into the Language Arts session for today, which was learning about how to find information in books. I had Kira and Maddy demonstrate for us with a book each how to source information, starting with simple stuff like title and author for the younger children, and moving through to more complex concepts like index’s, etc for the older ones. That led to checking out some codes (as one of the books was about codes and ciphers), which led to me writing up morse code on the white board, and some playing with that! Love how one thing can just flow naturally into another when there’s no pressure to “follow a syllabus”, and we can just free wheel as the learning opportunities arise.
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After this I got the kids to do 15 minutes in their Critical Thinking logic books, whilst Maddy prepared lunch, and that was pretty much the end of our intentional learning today. The last little bit was when I sat down at the dinner table, armed with a couple of younger children’s level biographies and a couple of older children’s level biographies and explained that we will be reading aloud 2 or 3 of those over the next 3 weeks (in theme with the literary focus for this chapter) and I handed out a couple of biographies as assigned reading for the older children.

Other than that we had a few people doing some extra chores around the house to earn extra computer time (they’re familiarly called “bonus half hours”); Kira and I went out to run a long errand and she got another hour of drive time into her log book; Isaac learned how to dry off, cut up, package and freeze rabbit carcasses that had been soaking since last night (4 of them after Bill’s hard work yesterday); Maddy ground some spelt grain into flour for a friend; and there was the usual knitting, reading, playing and general merriment!

I find myself, although tired, very much looking forward to another day of adventure together tomorrow!  :)

The learning journey on this 8th day, of the 2nd month, in the year of Our Lord 2013

Can you tell just one of the things we learnt about today from the title?  :)

We started our intentional learning today with read aloud time, and read from the following:

-The Bible; Mattew 10. This turned out to be a perfect fit for the next book that we read from.

- Foxe’s Christian Matyrs of the World. Today we read from the fifth persecution under the reign of Severus around A.D 200, to the sixth persecution under the reigns of Maximinus and Gordian around A.D 235. More and more I see how important it is to know our history and be allowing it to put the flesh of understanding on the bones of information. I am learning so much, and gaining much greater insight into things that Jesus spoke of (such as in Matthew 10), simply through getting to know more of history since that time. Our discussions arising from this read aloud also led to the revealing of what AD and BC actually mean (hence my title today  :)  ), and of the recent changes to CE and BCE.

-Tender Warrior by Stu Webber. Today we read Ch 3 aloud, “The Four Pillars of Manhood, a man and his roots”. A snippet from today’s chapter:
“In my family room sits a brand new sound system. The last one, purchased years ago, died a natural death.The new one arrived last week. Umpteen pounds of boxes, cases, wires,and manuals. Manuals! It took some careful reading, some sweaty wrestling, and not a little frustration, but my youngest son and I patched it together.

My friend Moishe Rosen says it well: “You get a microwave (or a stereo), you get a book. You get a toaster, you get a book. You get a car, you get a book. You get a life, you get a Book.” Stands to reason. The patent holder issues the owner’s manual. Born a human – male or female – you get a Book. Think of the Bible as the owner’s manual for your masculinity. Think of it as the Mother Spring. The Headwaters. And drink deeply from it..

The point should be clear. We must not plant our manhood in the midair of current sexual politics. When we ask, “What is a man?” we’re not going to query John Wayne or Gloria Allred. We’re not going to ask Tom Hanks, Dilbert, Bill O’Rielly, Donald Trump, James Bond, or Hillary Clinton. We’re going to ask the Creator what He had in mind when He invented the man.

We’re going to get on our knees – not to crawl into some dank and odorous sweat lodge – but to humble ourselves before the Maker of men…..put on your thinking cap and lace up your running shoes. We’re going to jog through some history and a little theology. It’s back to the Bible, guys.” (p41-42; first printed 1993, this edition printed 1999)

There might be some of you wondering “Why??!!” I’m reading a book on the definition of manhood to 7 kids aged 4 to 16, and with more than half of them girls. I read it because it’s important to us that our ‘young men to be’ have a firm and studied picture in their hearts and minds of who God made them to be, so they can know where they are aiming for in His vision (how true is it that if we aim at nothing, we’re almost certain to hit it). And I read so that our ‘young women to be’ can know how to best encourage their brothers in this path, how to best encourage their own father as he seeks to grow and change in these areas, and also, know what they themselves need to be looking for in a godly man, who can be (imperfectly) those four pillars to them and to their children, investing with wisdom into the generations yet to come. In a word: Equipping.

-Life of Fred: Cats, Ch 9. Yesterdays chapter took in geography and history in addition to maths, and today’s chapter covered timelines and health in addition to the maths.

The kids watched the first episode of “The Spice Trail” with Kate Humble. The blurb for ep 1: “Kate Humble retraces the steps of 15th century explorers as she begins her travels on India’s Spice Coast, uncovering the story of pepper, once known as black gold and nowadays the most consumed spice in the world. Kate then heads to Sri Lanka and the land of cinnamon – a place  shrouded in mystery to Europeans until the Portuguese accidentally landed on it’s shores.  We learn how these international businesses have emerged from generations of growers and merchants.”

She spends time talking about the history behind each spice and the people where it originated, the wars fought over them, the religions of the areas, as well as the climate, growing, harvesting, processing and selling of the spices. She does a great job of helping us to experience the journey ourselves. Fascinating! We still have another 2 episodes to go, “Nutmeg and Cloves” as well as “Vanilla and Saffron”. With those we will get to travel to the Indonesian Islands, Morocco, Spain, and Mexico. For fellow homeschoolers, I recommend pre-watching and deciding ahead of time whether everything is suitable for your children or not. Depending on age, convictions and sensitivities, it’s worth the look ahead to tailor the viewing to your own needs.

Bill spent time with Levi tonight explaining something about AC verses something else, all related to electricity and power adaptors, and Levi listened with rapt attention and asked fabulous questions! Can you tell how the boy’s brain ticks?? And how mine doesn’t!!   :)

We had our first session back with the youth worship band practice and it was a good session of playing familiar songs already well learned, a new one not yet attempted and another that was started last year but not mastered. Kira is back with keyboard (although she took it easy today and sat out for this session. She’s keen to have official piano lessons too, as well as have a go at either violin or cello, so we’ll pray about that and look into what might be possible), Maddy and Aggie are playing guitar (Maddy will only play for practices this year. She really hates playing for others, but enjoys practice. She honoured my stretching of her last year by getting her to do those hard things, and this year I am honouring her, but letting her only play for the practices.), and Isaac is back on drums and improving in leaps and bounds as he practices usually for 20 minutes a day at home.

Maddy and Isaac made lunch for us and got it on the table in good time, so that was a good outcome of some life skills practice, and Kira had her first really serious go at making a meal out of leftovers. That’s not something she’s really done much of (most of her meals are planned and made from scratch) so this was a good opportunity to stretch her experience today.

We continue to nurture and nurse our rescued pigeon who seems to be healing well. Both legs were broken, and the vet has bandaged/splinted them. That was a week ago today. The pain relief is still important (we can tell because it gets grumpy with us when the pain edge is building), but it’s been putting some weight on the legs, increasingly over the last few days. And then today it flew twice in the kitchen and was able to land itself very carefully each time. Lots of learning curve happening there for the family!

That about wraps it up! A full day with lots of learning and growing. Time for some sleep now to rejuvenate this tired but blessed mama!

Relaxed learning…

We had a great time of relaxed learning today in our home. I really appreciate days like this….they are fabulous!

We read aloud from Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the world (bringing us up to AD 200), The Cabin and the Ice Palace by Ruth Beechick (the 1st two chapters), Making Brothers and Sisters best Friends by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally (bringing us up to part way through chapter 2), Life of Fred – Cats (chapter 7 today), and reading from Psalms. Then the 4 eldest watched The Jungle Book for the first time (with Jason Scott Lee, Carey Elwes, Sam Neil and John Cleese). If you haven’t seen this movie, can I just say that it is definitely a pre-watch so that you know which bits to skip! I did that part of my planning ahead last night! Jemima came with me to do the grocery shopping in the late afternoon and did lots of maths drill (she would get the specific number of items off each shelf for me…. every time…with indefatigable enthusiasm!). The older kids helped the younger kids to play picture bingo whilst I read aloud to them, and then Isaac, Aggie and Levi played a couple of games of Blokus during the rest of that time. Maddy found a recipe for and make Baked Potatoes for the first time ever as her Wednesday night meal (that night is assigned “for the foreseeable future” to her as the night she is responsible for the evening meal), and did a fabulous job!

Tomorrow, a new day of learning dawns again….I wonder what adventures it will bring!?  :)

November in the garden….and the race is on!!

A diary update is loooong overdue on the work that’s happening in the garden, and what’s changing in the garden! Summer is just around the corner and there is so much to get done before the heat sets in, and I have to curb my outside time with the heat. If we want a summer harvest….!!

Over the past couple of weeks, the kids, Bill, Amy Peace and I have cracked on the pace with the catch-up work needed, and will be continuing to do so for another couple of weeks at least I think.

Tasks completed:

  • Carefully removing all strawberry plants, runners, and a nasturtium plant from the strawberry high-rise beds, removing almost all the soil (which was almost completely root bound), refilling the end caps with aged horse manure and mushroom compost, and then replanting the strawberry plant and their runners. I then interplanted about 30′ish lettuce seedlings which will be part of a follow-up experiment from last year. Last year I had about 5 lettuce plants in these beds, and they all did well, so this year I’m pressing up the quantity, and feeding schedule, and we’ll see how well the idea works! If it works well, it will be a brilliant spot to grow the majority of lettuces. The snails rarely get up into those beds!!  :)
  • Topping up 6 of the raised beds in the backyard, using straw, aged horse manure and mushroom compost. Kira was in charge of doing the licorice bed, and carefully dug out the existing plants, took off the top layer of soil (which contains hundreds of chickweed seeds, ready to sprout next winter but dormant for now), and then topped up the bed. She then replaced the plants and the top layer of seed laden soil. Aggie did two of the beds, Isaac did another, and I did the other two.
  • Veggie seedlings have been planted into 3 of those raised beds (beans, eggplant, tomatoes-Red grape/Black Krim/Brandywine/Northern Delight, basil, celery, a Balm of Gilead plant, and tomorrow a Lovage plant too-arrived in the post today)
  • Amy Peace and the kids constructed a new raised bed in the all seasons part of the chook yard, next to the door of the shed, in a full size, approx 240ltr barrel. We cut the top out of it (inside the rim, to try to keep the structure/shape strong), and they layered straw, manure, mushroom compost and organic topsoil into it. I’ve placed a narrow strip of reo into the top of the barrel and rested it against the shed roof. Sometime within the next 2 weeks we will fasten some wire mesh across the shed roof for vine-ing plants to latch onto. Amy planted a couple of Golden Nugget pumpkin seedlings and a few Spaghetti Squash seeds into the top surface of the barrel bed and hopefully, in a not to distant week, we will see vines making their way towards the shed roof. The hope is that the spread of broad and vigorously growing leaves will create some insulation for the garden/chook shed, and that the fruit up there will grow well with the additional sun exposure (the hours are quite a bit more limited on the ground). I did try this kind of idea a year ago, but was limited to the use of polystyrene boxes. I was finding that they dried out way too fast in that environment, and needed a different angle to approach this with. Perhaps with the deep barrel, and much greater quantity of soil/organic matter available, it may work better this time? Time will answer that question!
  • I went through the garden beds out the front, and trimmed a lot of the chard/spinach/kale/etc that was going to seed. I left two or three bolted stems on each plant but trimmed off the rest to free up both more physical and more visual space in those beds. That way everything will still self seed (a concept which makes me very happy), but we regain a little more share of the available sunshine for some other plants, such as…..
  • ….the six hazelnut bushes that I planted a couple of months back! They’re in the garden bed under the banksia, which had been home to the second lemon tree. That lemon tree was removed as it was failing to thrive with (I suspect) too much shade for it, and it’s now planted in the summer chook yard. More about that soon. I bought 2 different types of hazelnuts (bare-rooted), and they are all planted just inside of 1.5 ft of the next one. The plan is that this will keep them slightly smaller with the competition, as well as taking care of the wind-pollinated factor. They are leafed up and looking healthy and happy!
  • I hunted up all of the old cabbage plants bar one in the front yard and pulled those out, as well as the bigger weeds that I had been keeping and nurturing for the guinea pigs and rabbits. That cleared some more sunlight to ground space. I left one of the old cabbage plants, the one that puts out a constant supply of small offshoot leaves (still!!), and is great for harvesting for the rabbits and guinea pigs. Those bigger weeds have all done the seed thing now, so there will be a new generation of those coming through within a short enough time!
  • I had Levi harvest all the pods from the standard broad bean plants in front of the porch, and then I chopped the plants back to stumps the next day so they would release their nutrient supply into the ground. A couple of days later I planted tomatoes there (Amish Paste/Olomovic), and a hardier than usual version of a sweet basil. The scarlet broad bean plant are still in that bed, and I’ve just worked around them for now. I need to seed save from them, so they had to stay. Next year I’ll plant the scarlet ones in another area or two, so that I can cut down all the broad beans in my prime tomato growing spot! For this year, compromise in the name of the game!
  • Into one of those 6 topped up raised beds/crates in the backyard I transplanted 2 Candelabra Aloes and 3 perennial buckwheat runners. The bed sits in a dry and sun limited corner, and I’ve had a couple of failed crops in it now because of those issues. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with better ideas of what I could plant there. A few months ago I planted two candelabra aloe in a dry spot in the front garden. This space sits under the eaves and misses much of the rainfall, and is very shaded in addition to this. Again, a spot that I had a number of plants fail in. The aloe’s survived the winter and the spring frosts, and have proved to be well performed there. So I figure it might work for this particular micro-climate raised bed too. The perennial buckwheat does prefer a little more moisture, especially in the heat. I intend to make another couple of water pots, using terracotta pots siliconed together and sealed at one end, and sink them into the soil near the buckwheat. It works for the strawberries to keep them from wilting in the heat waves, so I figure it should work for the buckwheat too, without having too much moisture present for the aloes. Again, time will answer these questions!
  • The lemon tree that was removed from the front garden was transplanted into the summer chook yard, where it will get full sun (from late morning until late afternoon). Whilst Amy and the kids worked on the new barrel bed on Tuesday, I took some of our newly acquired bricks and set about creating a collar for the tree with those, leaving a moat of about 20 cm, and creating another circle with more bricks outside of that. I put up some plastic mesh just inside the outer bricks and so far, the chooks haven’t breached the protection zone!! So far!! Kira filled the “moat” with aged horse manure and mushroom compost for me, and I Seasol-ed it the other day too. So all I have to do for  a little while is keep the water up to it, and hopefully, watch it begin to thrive! Can I just say though, that it is *really* hard to work at a job like that with too friendly chook under your feet and hands all the time, just waiting for you to turn up worms for them as you move the soil!! LOL! They certainly created an unhelpful dimension!
  • The concrete trough under the high-rise strawberry beds have been topped up and planted with cucumbers (2 Marketmores, and 1 Crystal Apple), some land-cress (and as of tomorrow, a nasturtium plant too).
  • The comfrey plants through out the front garden have all gone straight to flower, and I’m not fighting them this year on that! I tried to keep heading them off last year and it was an impossible task, so this year…I concede! I’ll continue to be ruthless with slashing leaves and stems that are inhibiting other nearby plants (and just pitch the cut pieces around the fruit trees like last year). IRONICALLY:  It amazes me how my growth in the area of personal boundaries has actually made me a better gardener. I would always, previously, vacillate over the cutting back of anything, or pulling out of still alive plants. I had such trouble bringing myself to do it, and “cutting off” in both time and in the physical when needed. now, the improvements in my own personal boundaries/parenting/etc, have also spilled over into the garden and I’m much more able to make those hard decisions and follow through with them. Who’da thought!! LOL!
  • We look to have our first ever crop of pears, and peaches, and I think apricots too. The Cox’s Pippin apple tree in the kids garden is fruiting (also a first), and both snow apple tree’s (we have both of them in the ground in the front gardens now, instead of one in a pot out the back) are growing fruit too. There looks to be one cherry on the Stella cherry, but I’m cool with that, the big thing with that this year is to keep encouraging it to grow branches to be espaliered. The fruiting part can wait!
  • The Purple Elderberry is now growing at a phenomenal rate, responding well to being in the ground. I am so excited about this!! I bought two of them as tiny cuttings, and we lost one within a week to something of the small variety of livestock that mowed it down during the night. They were a real budget buster to buy, and we’d had to wait some time for them to be ready for us too, and it was with a bit of stress that I kept a close and protective eye on the other cutting. It came along slowly in a nice large pot, and once I was sure it was very strong and established I moved it, with Bill’s help into one of my limited and precious “in the ground” spots for tree’s in the backyard.  This tree was a high priority for me given its medicinal value. The other elderberry variety that is found all around Ballarat, suckers readily and has medicinal value, but doesn’t have the same potency as this one. Thanks to my friend Melissa, I have 2 of the local variety growing in large pots within our backyard, and they will be invaluable in helping supply the family too with elderberries! Looks like one of those will give us our very own first fruit this year (also exciting!).
  • The lucerne tree (tagasastes), also thanks to Melissa is now growing at an incredible rate, again, in the ground. It too was in a pot for some time whilst I tried to work out where I could afford to put it in terms of a permanent position. It was moved/transplanted about a year ago, and had more than quadrupled in size in that time! It’s on a good wicket!! We trim it every few weeks and give the trimmings to the grazers of the property. Love the synergy this plant brings to it’s part of the circle of life here. Feeds the soil when we trim it, feeds the grazers of the property, will provide shade for the aviary during summer whilst not excessively shading the raised beds either side of it, and is aesthetically a pretty tree. A winner all around. We can only afford one space wise, but appreciate that one very much!!
  • Kira tidied the small/makeshift bed that we had created around the grape bush/vine, neatened up and raised by one row the brick edging around it, and topped up the bed with some of the aged horse manure and mushroom compost. I transplanted two large, established clumps of chives into it that Maddy had removed from another bed that was being cleared, and we left the nice big borage plant next to the grape right where it was!! A great companion plant! Don’t want to mess with that. The grape is coming along nice and healthy, and I’ll watch and learn with interest how to nurture and care for this plant! The next step for that space it to run wires along the brickwork behind it, so we can espalier the grape branches as they grow.
  • Tonight I transplanted some successful wormwood and lavender cuttings into larger pots, and once they are grown and more developed, some of those will go into the summer and winter chook yards. Companion plants, medicinals, bee attracting (lavender), shade giving. The trick with the summer yard, will be to get the plants in the ground before the sun begins to retreat again from that area as autumn advances. Once they’re established, and have a little bit of height, then they’ll be able to catch a bit of sun each day, even during winter.
  • I trimmed the herbs (mainly yarrow and maku lotus) in the medicinal herb strip in the chook yards. Once I removed the plastic mesh that had been stopping the chooks from putting their heads straight through the security door wide mesh, the girls were immediately raiding the herbs inside that space. I may have to limit them again with that, but I’ll keep watching and see if they change their habits when the novelty wears off! They’re already ignoring it a bit more, so just maybe, it can be safely left. Time will answer that question too.
  • Maddy tagged all the two-year old boysenberry canes for me that are currently fruiting, with some green electrical tape, so that we can easily tell at the season’s end, which canes to cut back, and which ones to leave. This will be our first year getting fruit from these canes, so everyone is excited about that. The kids all thoroughly enjoyed their experience of eating fresh boysenberries at the property we got these canes from, and they are keen to enjoy them again!  :)
  • More to come soon, including the work on the winter chook yard,which will be growing much of our more space hungry veg this summer!! Plus photo’s of the work done and areas’ mentioned…..stay tuned!!

What the Lord wants to do, He will do! (40 Days for Life campaign and the March for the Babies 2012)

A Heads Up: I will be talking about our family’s involvement with the 40 Days for Life campaign and the March For The Babies rally today. And I’ll totally be talking about my personal relationship with God! If you believe you would struggle with this, this is your chance to stop and consider whether you want to read on. Whether you do or not, needs to be completely up to you. We’re all in a different place, with a different life story, and “stuff”. Only you can decide what’s best for you right now!

OK, on with the story of an amazing day!!  :)

We’re back from Melbourne, and the “March for the Babies” with the gang! :) All exhausted but happy! My time and use of talents wasn’t used quite as I’d anticipated, but was directed into other plans that God had for me.

(If this sounds a bit strange to some of my friends who read this, I understand. I just ask that you love me as I am.  :)

I’d had a growing conviction from late last night that I was supposed to be praying outside the Wellington Parade clinic whilst the march was happening. A crazy conviction given that I’d been planning with complete dedication to finally, personally, make it to the march this year. But then again, isn’t that just like God, to turn our expectations on their head!!  :)  Bill and Kira also felt this was right when I asked them to pray about it on our drive down to Melbourne. So Bill and the kids ended up dropping me off a couple of blocks away from the clinic, and went on to find a parking space and join the march. I walked to the clinic and then spent the next 2 hrs praying as led by the Holy Spirit, singing, worshiping. I loved being there (in the “relative” quiet), and being able to focus on praying both for the march itself, as well as for things and people, related to the clinic, abortion in Australia and around the world.

I had probably been there about 20-30 minutes when I was privileged to be encouraged by a lovely Christian woman named Cathy, whom God touched deeply when she walked past me. She related to me later that she and her husband were from out of town, and she was walking down the street just to find a place for them to go and eat at later on. The way she described her story, was that she saw me standing at the curb, facing the building, and saw my bible in my hand. She (as does nearly everyone who walks past me standing there) then looked left to see the wall plate identifying the clinic’s/building’s purpose, and described to me that as the realisation hit her of what kind of business this was, that she suddenly felt sick to her stomach. It was not a response that she was expecting and it took her by surprise. She had not even realised that we had any abortion clinics in Melbourne, and it was a painful revelation for her.

She had turned around, another couple of buildings later, to walk back the way she had come, realising that the restaurant type businesses had stopped with the block of shops behind her. This caused her to come past me again. (I noticed her come back past again, smiling at her again, as I do for anyone who makes eye contact), but when she got a few feet past the building she stopped.

I saw her stop and watching her could see the look in her of someone hesitating about what to do next, I could see that some kind of decision was being made (or wrangled  :) . She then turned and walked back to me, and asked what I was doing, (she was wondering if I was handing bibles to anyone who might come out of the clinic). I explained that I was praying for the babies, the mums and families, the workers, etc, as a part of the 40 Days for Life Campaign. She told me how she wanted to encourage me to keep up the “good work” of prayer, told me that she is a christian, had no idea about there even being an abortion centre here, and that she would certainly now be praying. What was happening in this conversation really affirmed for me personally the importance of the “vigil” component of the 40 Days for Life campaign, and the “community outreach” component. So many people are completely unaware of the abortion crisis happening in our country, in our state and around the world.

I saw the confirmation that God was reaching out *in that moment* to touch Cathy’s life and plant a seed, She confessed that she “NEVER” goes up to a stranger and talks to them. That what she just did was completely and utterly out of character for her, but she found that she just “HAD” to come back and offer a message of encouragement. I was so blessed and excited to be a part of what God was doing in that place and space in time. What He was doing in Cathy’s walk with Him.

And what blew me away, even more so than that though, was that only a few minutes before Cathy had first walked by, I had felt that God had given me a particular prayer to pray over “that very wall plate”. It was very specific, like seeing a picture and then praying that picture with words. I stepped out in faith and prayed that prayer. And what happened with Cathy, what she described of her experience to me, absolutely hit that prayer nail on the head, in every detail! God is good!!

What we are needing in our land really is a change that only Gods power can effect. That’s why this must all be rooted in prayer and fasting. All glory goes to Him!

As we are told in scripture:
“6 
So he answered and said to me:

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts. (emphasis mine)
‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”

May God’s grace be upon us all, may we remain mindful of the truth that this is a spiritual battle first and foremost, and may our hearts be filled “always” with compassion for all the “others” that we engage with in this crisis. Loving them enough to be truthful with them, and being loving with them as we share that truth with grace, compassion and from an attitude of equal footing. May the words of our mouths and our actions honour you Father God, as we bring our inadequacies to the table, and lean on your power and equipping to do what you call us to.

God Bless!

A day of quiet achievements…..

I’m sitting here in our rumpus room; it’s late, and quiet. Quiet that is apart from the gently snoring labrador laying at my feet  :)  I’ve spent the last few minutes just reflecting on the day before I head off to bed, tempted yet again to dwell on thoughts of what we “didn’t” get done today, and quite honestly, trying to remember what we actually did do. And as I remembered, I made a decision to respond with thanksgiving and gratitude for our day together.

What did the day look like?

I was blessed to be kissed by my husband before he headed off to work this morning. I am thankful for him, for the way he works to provide for us, and for his leadership, protection and love.

I was blessed to be able to trust the kids to get breakfast on the table, and to do their post breakfast jobs whilst Levi and I (9yob) walked to the train station together. That’s where Bill had left the family van when catching the train and it had to be retrieved. I am thankful for the 45 minutes that I got to share with Levi, just the two of us, walking and talking.

I was blessed to have a chance to chat with a good friend this morning, when she called by to pick something up. I am grateful for friendships today.

We all had a chance today to spend our own personal time with God, in His Word, praying and talking with Him, learning more about his ways, and I am thankful for the freedom that we have in this country to do this without fear; and thankful that we share this richness as a family.

We spent time together working in the garden. Some pulling up oxalis, thinning out ill-placed borage, supervising grazing guinea pigs and rabbits in the mini orchard beds, and some helping with planting cuttings. One of us moving tiny native caraway seedlings to better situations, uprooting and teasing out the peppermint plants for replanting into fresh soil, weeding the chinese artichoke bed, and severely cutting back the wormwood bushes to clear a view to the sky for small lavender and rosemary bushes in the herb hedge. I am so grateful for the help of friends and family that gave us this garden to be out working in, and thankful for God’s incredible creation that I marvel at every day, and blesses my soul so amazingly.

I spent time with my eldest daughter, as she followed through bravely with getting her ears pierced, and we did a little clothes shopping together. Rare and precious moments shared. I am reminded of my gratitude to God for His gift to us in Kira. And so thankful for His grace and provision for us as parents!!

We enjoyed a strata for lunch made by Isaac and Maddy, and I was thankful for the schedule and how much it helps, and for having invested into the kid’s training in life skills. I’m grateful that we do life as a team.

We shared a great time of bible reading and prayer time, and I am thankful that family worship and a biblical training are slowly becoming normative for us. May we be a light to all around us, and a people (family) of blessing to others.

The kids spent time listening to some of the unabridged audio book of Mary Poppins. I am thankful that we can have this medium to explore literature with, in addition to our read aloud times and own reading. Sharing the stories “together as a family” is so cool!

And the 3 eldest kids and I watched the first half hour of “We of the Never Never” tonight. Giving us lots to talk about already as we use this to explore a part of our Australian history, our culture. I’m grateful for this time and opportunity that I have to lead them into learning and discerning, and thankful that I said “yes”, when God whispered “home schooling” to me. It would have been so easy to have said “no”, and I am thankful every day that I didn’t.

So, as I reflect on a day that at first “felt” like a bit of a failure, I have realised that it was actually a good day, a day of quiet achievements. A day for thankfulness and gratitude.

Peace and grace be with you all!

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