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Inspiring local homeschooler!

Inspiring local homeschooler!

Giving a shout out to a lovely young lady, a homeschooled friend, who is making a difference and impact in her local community through her writing talents. Congratulations Anna Peet!!

(Click on the link to read the article) 

Vertical Veg takes off!

Vertical Veg takes off!

I’ve been following the great work and encouragement that Mark Ridsdill Smith has been bringing to “small area, produce” growing for a little while now. This article is a great summary of how he got started and where the adventure has gone so far. Please read the article and be encouraged about what is possible in your space, in your neighbourhood, and beyond!  :)

First ever attempt at making a nettle infusion….

…and we had mission successful! Yay!

The back-story: A couple of months ago we planted out three of the small areas in our suburban sized block, affectionately known as the Chickie yard, the Lower Paddock, and the Rabbit yard, with perennial grass and herb seeds. All of that has then come on really well with the combination of rain and sunshine over autumn, but it’s not the only greenery that was growing well. A whole bunch of nettle seedlings had also appreciated the fertiliser and tender care give to the area’s and I was faced with the need to get into those area’s and weed out the many nettle seedlings before they had much more off a chance to get established and reproduce! On the one hand, I love having fresh nettle on hand, on the other hand, I have kids who love to run barefoot in the backyard….nuff said!

So, over two days I spent a couple of hours harvesting every nettle seedling and mature plant that I could find, whilst treading carefully, sparingly, on the new grazing plants that I’m trying to get established. Those area’s yielded me a full 10 litre bucket of nettle stems and leaves; a very nice harvest indeed.


One recipe I’ve been keen to try, using fresh nettle if possible, is this one at Fresh Bites Daily:

I already include dried nettle where I can into our recipes, such as scrambled eggs, casseroles, pasta dishes, etc. As a health nurturing, nutritious herb, it’s a highly valuable addition to any meal. But this was a new venture, well worth the attempt under the circumstances!

Therefore, two nights ago I boiled up a pot of water, added in the nettles (using dish-washing gloves!), popped the lid on and then left it on a kitchen bench to infuse away! Last night we strained the mix (twice!), and from that I bottled 6 and a bit litres of nettle infusion. What fascinated me was that although the soaked nettles were all still a bold green in colour, the liquid was an amber colour. Then, lo and behold this morning, the smaller bottled portion (the other bottles were all full), was green, like it’s counter parts had been…but, the liquid contained in the full bottles are all still an amber colour. They have all been chilled in a fridge since last night, so I’m quite uncertain about why the difference. It will be interesting to see if anything continues to change. Interestingly, mine was not the texture described in the above link. Mine is quite watery, and not unusual in texture. Another mystery.

My plan is to freeze 5.5 litres in half litre lots, to then take out and defrost for a weeks use at a time. The balance I’ll use over the next week.

Yes, I have tried the orange juice and nettle infusion together. How was it? I could smell the “green herbal tea” scent as I lifted the glass to drink (not at all unpleasant, just “there”), but the taste was decidedly in favour of the orange juice. and quite refreshing to drink. A “thumbs up”!


Certainly consider having a go folks!!  :)

If you’d like to learn why I see this as such a versatile and important herb, and why I am keen to put it to good use in our family diet, please click on the following link for more information:

Isabell’s “How Do I Use Herbs In my Daily Life” book has been an invaluable addition to our family, and I’ve been most grateful many a time for her trusted references and advice, connecting our garden and it’s riches to our family’s health and healing.

Bill Muehlenberg reviews “How Christianity Changed the World”, by Alvin Schmidt

Bill Muehlenberg reviews “How Christianity Changed the World”, by Alvin Schmidt

On his website CultureWatch, Bill Muehlenberg posted this excellent review of the book, “How Christianity Changed the World”, by Alvin Schmidt. I’m sharing it here on my blog, and would encourage you to read the review *and* consider adding the title to your library! I certainly will be!

(from the review) “In this well-documented volume of over 400 pages, Schmidt marshals the evidence for the transforming power of the Christian faith. He shows how Jesus has the power to transform men, who in turn are able to transform society. And on every level, that is exactly what has happened. Several specific examples can be mentioned.

Consider also the issue of health care. Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and Romans had little or no interest in the poor, the sick and the dying. But the early Christians, following the example of their master, ministered to the needs of the whole person. During the first three centuries of the church they could only care for the sick where they found them, as believers were then a persecuted people. Once the persecutions subsided, however, the institutionalisation of health care began in earnest.

For example, the first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to establish hospices in every city that had a cathedral. The first hospital was built by St Basil in Caesarea in 369. By the Middle Ages hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, “Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions”.”

Please click on the link above to read the whole article!

Regarding Dr James White, and addressing a Matthew Vines lecture…

Early in the week I started the kids listening to the first of the twenty-one YouTube video’s that contain Dr James White’s response to Matthew Vines presentation on why he believes that identifying oneself as an actively gay Christian is not what (in my understanding) it must be, an oxymoron. Hubby and I had already listened to the whole response a number of weeks ago, so I’ve heard all of the content all ready and we were both happy for the kids (all ages) to be listening to this. Dr White is doing this via the medium of his radio show, and the segments run to 15 minutes each. So far, the kids have listened to the first twelve segments, and are eager for more.

The older kids are all keen in their listening and learning, having their attention drawn to Matthew’s clever but often dishonest use of scripture, of unreasonable assertions (and how to spot them), and of emotional appeal value when trying to win an argument inside another persons head and heart. This is a conversation that they need to be able to have readily, and with understanding and clarity of thought, in a time of such deep rebellion against God, not only outside of the Church, but too often within the church as well.

“Lord, please open our eyes to see where we are not submitted and conformed to your will, grant us repentance and a new heart for your truth. Amen”

As parents we’re most determined to be equipping the next generation (as well as this one) to be able to listen with discernment, and reason well both from scripture, and in everyday interactions and thoughts.



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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!


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!  :)


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.


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!
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:

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.
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!  :)


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