Saturday, January 30, 2010

Comfort Zone

I have completely escaped and annihilated my comfort zone!

Just minutes ago I posted a message on our local homeschooling proboard inviting people to a group I have invented!  I CAN go a little overboard when I imagine possibilities.  But instead of a space age homeschoolers drop-in mega-centre (which i actually had a dream about), this is the Fun Brain Institute (I like the acronym).  Meeting for 3 hours once a fortnight in a local hall.  I ran it by a few friends at the park yesterday, who liked the idea, so I've put it up for comment.  Hope we get a few keen families to join us (The Mad Professor and her Apprentices).   It should be heaps of fun!

Shy?  Quiet?  Would like to be invisible?
Usually that's me, but there's another me who loves a creative outlet.  This is the ME that's only pretending to be grown up.  Life and learning are meant to be fun.  I'm excited!

I need some sleep, so I'll share more about this another time.

(thought it's about time to sign my name!)

P.S.  I am still sane.  This is just the 'fun' me showing through!  A bit giddy with the thrill of doing something dangerous (well not that spectacular, only telling a hundred people my idea).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hopes and dreams

Sometimes what's in our hearts seems too precious to share, but I'm going to anyway.  I started writing this a few weeks ago and forgot to post it ... but it's still relevant.  

My goals, hopes and dreams for 2010:

*  keep my passion for the Lord, praying and reading the Bible daily.
*  be the best wife, mum and home-maker I can be.
*  diversify my cooking skills and continue to provide healthy, tasty food.
*  inspire and support my children in their education and experiences.
*  be more humble, frugal, energetic and organised.
*  support my husband in choosing a direction for his future study and work.
*  together pursue our desire to serve the Lord whilst traveling.

We've had a great start to the year already.  Mr 5 is so proud that he can ride his bike without training wheels now.  Miss 4 is seeming very grown up with her violin playing and constant conversation.

Both children have suddenly taken up boogie boarding, after a few visits to beaches with very small waves, and we're all now hopelessly addicted to catching waves!

Making sense and moving ahead

It's hard to write when I'm stuck, and I've had myself in knots trying to put our particular way of homeschooling into words.  Kind of like writer's block, but more like life block ... I wanted everything to be easily defined before I made decisions about what to commit to this year, especially in activities for Miss 4 and Mr 5, as kids (mine at least) need lots of time to just BE kids, play and relax at home.  Plenty of things happen each week, without deliberately overscheduling.

I've been trying to reconcile my views on everything I've learned about homeschooling so far.   I love many aspects of Natural Learning, some Charlotte Mason ideas, Thomas Jefferson Education, Unit Studies and some Traditional Ed done creatively.  Training up my children in the Lord is the most important.  When I was praying about it, one message I heard was "don't hang onto GOOD things which are holding you back from BETTER things."  

I decided my main problem is that everything I've read about HOME EDUCATION is SO GOOD!

The reason this is a problem is that you can't do everything.  Even just picking my favourite aspects of each philosophy was too much to think about for a while.  For a while, the abundance of possibilities in shaping our home school stopped me appreciating all the success we've already had.  

AT LAST I'm ready to decide!  It's better for us to do something positive, which we are comfortable with, than be paralysed by indecision and worry about loyalty to any method in particular.  I've always tended towards respecting my students, giving choices, showing possibilities and making interesting resources available, so I'm already using what I consider to be the best bits of Natural Learning. 

So once again we're "Christian Eclectic Tidal Homeschoolers" ...  a messy label but one I'm comfortable with.  As always we'll have scriptures, prayer, and share lots of books.  We'll be back into phonics, copy work, fun reading and maths, but more delight-based than adhering to any program.   I believe any resource we use should serve not enslave us.  With some fun unit studies and following our interests in everything else, and some natural learning principles woven throughout, I know my kids will learn all they need for this year ... as children have a tendency to do! 

I'll keep you posted about how it's going ...

Monday, January 18, 2010

My testimony

I'm excited about writing this, but before I start, I'll admit I'm also very aware that some of my readers have different beliefs.  Even amongst Christians I'm quite different.  Still, here's my true story, the most important one I can tell about myself.  It feels exciting and risky posting this, but I'm doing it with good intentions, in the spirit of honesty and sharing my real self with you, the reader.  My aim is not to judge others, criticise, generalise or preach.  I'm just telling my story.

Growing up my family sometimes went to church, but not regularly.  For scripture I was in the 'Church of England' classes.  I believed in God, liked faith-based stories, but put more time into my own thoughts about the meaning of life, enjoyed star signs etc., and had all kinds of ideas about how to explain my existence.  I didn't know who I was, or why I was here, and just got on with life as best as I could, with the 'usual' ups and downs.  I was a dreamer, perfectionist, studious, mostly serious, insecure, caring, a bookworm, loved my family, hated peer divisions, tried to blend in and be unexceptional.  It's only in recent years that I've found answers to the many questions I had, that no amount of escapism, adventure, travel, introspection, or research could help with.

My life has radically changed twice.  Once, when I was 17 and decided to 'give my heart to the Lord'.  When I moved to a small city for Uni and work, I went to a church hoping to make friends, which I did, but I also found the Lord.  So I stayed to learn as much as I could, got involved and tried to obey God.  I was saddened by hypocrisy in myself and many churches about how 'Christians' lived, often disobeying the Bible, and abusing the Lord's forgiveness.

The next big change came in the year 2000.  By then I was 25, married then divorced, teaching in a boarding school, and renting a cottage on a farm.  Back home, Mum started going to a church which I initially thought was a cult, and I (being the 'religious expert', ha ha), went to rescue her!!  At a small meeting, at Mum's place, I realised there WAS a church which followed the Bible 100%.  It was obvious to me throughout the choruses, talk and spiritual gifts, this was what I'd been waiting for.  After supper I prayed for and received the Holy Spirit, with evidence of speaking in tongues, a gift from God and unique prayer language.  That weekend I obeyed the Biblical call to be baptised by full immersion, and went back home.  A group from the same church were meeting at a town 1 hour drive away, and that's where I went a few times a week, until I moved up the coast, where I now live closer to church and have an incredible life I never could have imagined!

Since 2000, some amazing things have happened to me, which I give full credit to the Lord for:

-  healings at particular times, through prayer - from depression, anxiety, sinusitis, back pain, several viruses, headaches and more.

-  my marriage is THE BEST - I didn't want to make any more mistakes with trusting men, so I prayed "Lord, if you want me to be married again, you'll have to hit me over the head, because I'm not looking!"  And so I was stunned when I met Pete, who shared my faith, and before we even could chat comfortably (did I mention I was shy?) I knew he was 'the one'.  We are now married with two wonderful children, and it's no exaggeration that we are both truly thankful and know we are incredibly blessed.

-  overseas revival - we've travelled to Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, and have seen first hand what is happening in dozens of other countries.  It's a story in itself ... people coming to salvation by the droves, lives changed, amazing healings of the worst diseases, all as the Bible promises.

- answers - since my baptism I've gradually, REALLY known the answers to some of my questions, which before I could THINK about theoretically, but didn't have peace about personally.  Low self esteem took time to heal, and it took a while for me to fully comprehend and accept the Lord's love and purpose for me.  I still enjoy discovering new aspects of the life he's given me, for now and forever.

That's my story, as much as I have time to write now, anyway.
I don't know my future, but I know it's in His hands.
In life there will be trials, but I know where to look for help.
I get excited about many aspects of my life, and talk about them a lot,
but my salvation and relationship with the Lord is the most precious possession I have.

I'd be selfish if I didn't add this, and if you've read this far, this invitation shouldn't surprise you.  If you want to know more, or to find a 100% Bible-based church, let me know in comments, and I'll give you contact details, wherever in the world you live.

A few truths about me ...

I've thought much about the concept of 'authentic self' over the past year or two.  Who are we really?  How much are we willing to share?  When I read that other people are thinking about this too, I felt challenged to respond to the topic, as raised on two blogs I regularly read and thoroughly enjoy:

When it comes to what we share on our blogs, I guess we reveal different aspects of ourselves within different groups ... both essentially true, but with a different emphasis.  Like various coloured lights will reveal different features of an artwork.  I don't have many readers, but I appreciate the ones I do have, and am glad to be getting to know you too.  Some are homeschoolers, some teachers, family and friends, visitors, of many lifestyles and personalities.  As many writers probably do, I still deliberate each post, wondering what people will think.

In my blog I'm trying to let my true self come through louder than the part that could just write what people want to hear.  Afterall, I started a blog as a way to make sense of MY thoughts and ideas, and to share MY world.  Of course it's a work in progress, and I'm still figuring out what I think about many things and how they all fit together.  Some of us are more self-critical and introspective than others.  Some people don't 'get' that, but that's also partly to do with personality types, and it's ok.  Whilst I hope to inspire others, I don't want to be a watered down version of myself ... so I guess I'll be writing what's on my heart, and you can do the deleting and diluting!

Here are a few things you might not know about me yet:

*  Recently I've spent too much time reading blogs and 'how-to' homeschool/ unschool books and sites (too much in terms of what I'm conditioned to think is acceptable, not compared to my desire or interest : ) ).  Whilst I know I need to have my own interests and do my own learning, perhaps I'll limit the online aspect of this ... anyway, I'm keen to reclaim some time for painting and writing.  Kids are also a good way of keeping me 'in the real world'!!

*  I've made a choice to not visit the library at all this month, and maybe next if necessary, and to toss junk mail in the recycling bin without reading it.  Why?  One reason is similar to Kez's ... being content with my life, self and home ... not being dictated to by society and the media about what I need or what I should be like.  My other reason is something I don't talk about much, but as we're being honest ... I really want to be more influenced by the Lord than by anyone or anything in this world (including well-meaning, lovely books, which have their place, but for me can be more of a selfish overindulgence at times)!

*  Speaking of faith ... it means MUCH more to me than I've really expressed on here.  I want to share my testimony without forcing it on anyone.  So if you want to read about my faith, miracles and healings, please read my next post!

*  I love having a clean and tidy house.  I get stressed out when surrounded by mess.  BUT my home is lived in, some days our home gets more attention than others, and the job is never fully done in my eyes (that would mean repainting, having carpets cleaned, windows washed etc ...).  I LOVE surprise visits from my Mum, but might be embarrassed by mess with other guests.  I also like making a mess, and we have a ton of fun here.  Luckily I like cleaning!!  And I always have some kind of home improvement project on the go (at the moment it's hanging photos and prints on several bare walls ... something I've been too indecisive to do, but I'm just jumping in now!)

*  I can't give a short answer to any question ... did you notice?  Especially "what's your favourite colour, food, book, place etc.?"  I CAN answer with lists or essays!

*  I still care what other people think.  Not obsessively, as I used to, but enough to make myself question most of my choices, in terms of caring about the opinions of people I respect.  I know right now my dear husband will be thinking, "Uh oh, she's lost in cyberspace again!" or something like that.  Mostly I stick to computer work when he's at work, which isn't now, so I'd better go.  So I can't relax and write 10 more points.  Lucky you!

*  I always find time to read one more chapter, write one more thought or change my clothes once more before I head out the door.

Thanks for visiting my space,
Bye for now!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I seem to be easily inspired ... there's always something on my mind making me daydream.  This is a long post, very personal, with a little task for you at the end.  At the moment I'm inspired by:

*  Attempting to grow some of our own food.  So far we have 7 productive citrus trees, 3 baskets of cherry tomatoes, 1 strawberry plant and some accidental mint.  It's a small start, but I'm trying to take good care of the plants and learn what they need, so hopefully they'll live long enough to feed us!  I'm endlessly inspired by which shows me endless possibilities for our small yard, and my friend Karen at is also starting from scratch, though somewhat more zealously!

*  Eradicating the excessive ant population from my garden.  I'm not proud of this goal (I feel sorry for the ants being evicted or killed), but there's the truth.  If I'm to succeed in gardening there have to be less biting bugs!

*  Finding my own eclectic balance in the home education and unschooling continuum.  I like the ideas at  I also like and  There are so many choices and I'm always finding new ideas, but my main aim is to keep tailoring our home school to my children, enjoy my own ongoing education, encourage and serve others, love life and be led by God.

*  My children.  Their spontaneous expression and improvisation in music, dance and song, the stories they tell as they are playing cars, dolls, family and animal role play, shops, chefs and cafes, Bible heroes, kings and princesses.  

*  Watching less TV and not missing it.  We only get NBN and ABC1, having not spent money on a decent aerial or set top box, and have cut down from very little to next to nothing.  Over the years I find more shows boring, annoying or immoral.  Not that I'm perfect, but I want to dwell on nice things, not crime shows.  Not to mention the ads shown even as we watch the weather at 6:50pm, having to quickly turn it off if the kids are in the room.  Shows we sometimes enjoy are Landline, The Secret Millionaire, The New Inventors.  

*  Having the Bible to guide my choices in books, movies, music etc.  Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

*  Continuing to consciously raise our children the best way we can.  I don't want to raise them in a bubble, and there are plenty of instances where I'll let them take risks and learn from their mistakes.  I'm happy to discuss their choices and debate issues with them (as a firm believer that 4 and 5 year olds are quite capable of intelligent discussion). But I also think it's my responsibility to protect them from too-early exposure to excessive evil in the media, shops, books etc. goes some way towards the action we would like to see much more of, in relation to a wider movement of protecting children in general.

*  Living with less ... I love filling bags with excess clothing, toys etc for the op shop.  But no matter how much I give away we still seem to have much more than we need.  As evidenced by the next point ...

*  Organising what we do have ... it's an ongoing challenge to keep our books, art supplies and other 'stuff' in such a way that it is tidy, readily accessible but not in the way.  We have 4 sets of shelves lining the garage walls, where things (like sports gear, paints, floor puzzles or sewing gear) are packed in boxes ready to grab as needed.   A pantry cupboard in the garage houses my teaching resources, future workbooks and books the kids are not quite ready for.  Another in the sunroom has stationery, worksheets, readers, maths manipulatives, games, flashcards, puzzles and more.  An open shelf holds work boxes, textbooks, textas, frequently used craft supplies, whiteboards, art scrapbooks, and the CD player.  More board games and toys are stashed in the linen press, kids rooms and TV unit.  Then there's the main bookshelf, with sections for fiction, non-fiction and teacher resources.  And the kids each have a shelf in their rooms with their personal favourites.  Yikes!  

*  Cooking.  I really love baking desserts, cakes, slices, pancakes and cookies, but then they need to be eaten.  Uh oh.  So the kids and I do that as a treat sometimes, especially when we have the opportunity to take them somewhere to share.  I also like cooking stir fries with rice or noodles, pasta bake, homemade pizza and cutting up fruit platters.  I'm not so familiar but getting braver with roasts, casseroles, soups, pies and pastries.  It's all fun.  I try to keep it a bit healthy, and limit the sugar and artificial additives.  We go through a ton of fruit each week, but need to eat more veges and always wish we used even less pre-packaged food.

*  Cleaning.  It's never finished, and it's a living home, but I feel happier when the house is reasonably tidy, the bathroom cleaned, washing done and floor vacuumed.  We need to repaint some walls, and I'm usually behind in window cleaning.  I positively dream about the next day when I'll have my carpets professionally cleaned (it would've been this month if we hadn't come home to a dead hot water system, finally replaced yesterday for over $1000!)

*  Aboriginal heritage ... we've discovered there may be some, a few generations ago in my husband's family tree, but it's proving hard to access all the records to confirm it.  I wish it was in my blood!  I've always loved learning about Aboriginal land, culture, art and so on, and feel a real affinity, but my grandparents quite certainly come from Holland, England and Germany.  I don't envy the myriad problems our Indigenous people are experiencing, and hope the future sees a lot of improvement.  This is a fascinating story unfolding.

If you're still reading, congratulations on your stamina!  I can get carried away.  There's plenty of other things I'm excited about ... outreaching, charities, travel, art, books and more, but I'm sure you've heard enough about me for one day.  Why not drop me a list or blog link of what you're inspired by this year?