Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Poster: Deidre and her Traveling Family

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Guest Poster:  Deirdra

Please meet my friend Deirdra and her family.  They are homeschoolers here in Australia with a unique and intriguing lifestyle of living in an RV and traveling all over the country with their children. Deirdre and her husband Mark and three of their four children have a burning desire to see Australia and beyond!  You can now find them living in their caravan and traveling indefinitely... 

Deirdre and Mark and their gorgeous family

We began selling our belongings last August. It was painful to begin with but as we got going we couldn’t wait for the next garage sale. As the house emptied out, we bought our camping chairs and a few other bits and pieces and “practiced” living with the basics only. In the last couple of weeks we got down to air mattresses, a chair, bowl, plate, cup and not much else each! We left Mackay for Ireland in November and spent Christmas there with my folks. They didn’t understand why we wanted to live in a caravan when we got back to Australia and got one heck of a shock when they saw the plans of it. They thought it would be much bigger- we thought it was huge! 

January 14th came around soon enough and we were back in Brisbane moving into our new caravan. We could hardly contain our excitement, after a couple of years in the planning, the dream had come true and we were now living it. Our eldest daughter, who is at university in Brisbane soon brought us down to earth. She was quite shocked when she saw inside the van and couldn’t imagine how five of us were going to fit in it - it’s smaller than her flat! Well, it’s been eight months now and we’re still finding it comfortable. We don’t see it as confined space living, quite the opposite, we have the whole of Australia to live in!

Cushla on the island of Vanuatu
We had already been home schooling for over a year. As we were going to travel and not have a consistent home school group anymore I decided to enroll in a distance education school for support. In late January we spent an afternoon with our new head master. By the end of the meeting we were all very happy with the curriculum that had been decided upon and so we went on our merry way to begin our journey. Our distance ed school has a few teachers throughout Queensland and they run a couple of workshops each term. The head master turns up at most of them and he has gotten used to us popping up in different areas too! 

I think we have the best of both worlds. I can educate my kids in a way that suits our lifestyle, I have teacher support via Skype if I need it, a teacher to do the reporting for me and the kids get to go on school camps. One of the teachers has been a volunteer at Mon Repos during the turtle nesting season for many years. At the end of summer we will be heading south again to the family camp there. We can hardly wait to see the thrills and spills of the turtle hatchlings scurrying across the beach to the ocean.

Mark works as we travel, running a small business showing people how they can prepare for a better retirement. This works out well for us in that we stay in a new area for around six weeks. While he is seeing clients we are doing school work. Often we are able to find a local home school group to join in with their weekly meet ups and make plenty of new friends along the way. When he’s not working, well - that’s time for what we love to do the most, exploring new areas! Clearly we don’t have a daily routine! I check out Marks diary and see what appointments he has and work out when and what school work can be done. The kids might start at 6am some days, not often though. Other days they will do their full days school work and ask for tomorrow's and get half of that done too into the evening. They will manage their own time depending on how many other kids there are around to play with or what touring we can fit in. I do have one routine though. As soon as we have parked the caravan in a new town we go to the tourist information centre and have a good chat there. You can learn a fair bit from the internet but nothing beats talking to a local. The second stop is always the library and we come home loaded with books.

We have no fixed plans and have learned to be very flexible! Because Mark is working as we go we expect to take around 4 years to get the whole way around Australia. He won’t be working at every stop, only in the larger towns. We are thinking of leaving Queensland after the Mon Repos Turtle camp but where are we heading? No idea – yet! A lot will depend on my daughter  Cushla’s education. She will be in year 11 next year and would like to do a diploma in reflexology. Unfortunately this can no longer be done online. So, we are looking into various natural therapy colleges, preferably ones with lots of campuses as we don’t want to spend a whole year in one place! 

We are getting there. There are some that will allow her to do a term in each state plus a few units online so this would suit our travel plans nicely. All of the colleges we have spoken to so far would be happy to have her as a student even though she is below school-leaving age. As soon as they hear we are homeschoolers and are traveling they recognize that she would very likely have the maturity to complete the course. TAFE on the other hand is a different matter, less flexible, plus the new government is overhauling the rules at TAFE so until that is done we wait to see where we will travel to after Queensland. It’s an adventure... 

Now, off to Capricorn Caves!


If you are interested in reading more about Deirdre's adventures
and those of her family,
please follow her at her blog site

for generously sharing your family with us!
We miss you in Brisbane!

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Or try this one:  Guest Post:  Get Them to Read

Monday, October 28, 2013

Homeschooling and Our Trip to Melbourne, VIC

If only every family who wanted to could travel as we have been fortunate enough to get to do!!!  We spend this week in the Australian state of Victoria, starting in Melbourne.
While in Victoria, my daughter and I toured a school there, a high school. She has been considering attending THIS SCHOOL only.  We are taking many factors into consideration and she just may do it!

She likes the idea of being away from her family. She is a child who started "running away" when she was about six years old. In her own way, she keeps a great deal of distance between us, even while we are very close. If that doesn't make much sense, you would get it if you knew us. Our relationship is unique.

While in Melbourne, besides touring this school that Elizabeth is interested in, we toured and traveled around and made the most of our few days there. Here are some pics of only the MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENTS of our time there.

Elizabeth walking by the tea shop in Melbourne's CBD

Melbourne's train station.  Melbourne has PHENOMENAL public transportation.

John in Federation Square

The kids downtown in the CBD

Elizabeth at Chelsea Beach

Elizabeth LOVED Chelsea Beach

John LOVES this little Wallaby!

John feeding the wallaby

GORGEOUS Smith's Beach on Phillip Island

Phillip Island is SO stunning

"The Nobbies" on Philllip Island, home of seals

Phillip Island Penguin Parade Beach!  No Cameras Allowed

No Cameras Allowed
Happy Elizabeth at Sandringham College (high school) in Sandringham VIC

Along the Great Ocean Road at Lorne

Sunny and gorgeous LORNE, surfer's haven!
This is Rachel.
She gets to work on this beach every day!!!!
Hello, Rachel, if you visit!!
Rachel reminded me of Elizabeth's best friend Abby

A gorgeous spot along the Great Ocean Road

Otwel Lighthouse

It was windy as HELL up on the lighthouse!
We were thrilled!!!!!  LOL

Otwel Nature Area has SO MANY koala!

The Twelve Apostles on a very rainy day

Port Campbell

The Arch near Port Campbell VIC, near The Twelve Apostles

Elizabeth at The Arch

Jer and I at London Bridge near Port Campbell VIC

REMARKABLE London  Bridge

London Bridge on a SUNNY day!

Our family at The Twelve Apostles on a sunny day!

London Bridge and John John

Lots of Little Penguin tracks all along the Port Campbell shores

My gorgeous family at The Twelve Apostles
Beautiful weather, finally!

Stunning stunning stunning

One of several gorgeous birds that I've never seen before.

Our family learned so much about Australia, Victoria, Melbourne, geology, botany, zoology, maps, weather, oceanography, evolution, and OURSELVES. I hope that one day, we get back to this breathtaking place again.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Science is Your God

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Because I am a total night owl I am online quite a bit. I read blogs, news, Pinterest, Facebook, listen to podcasts, watch video and lectures, etc. Because of my family's sincere love for all things science, I tend to watch lectures and things, often lectures by absolutely brilliant people. Then I get onto a tangent and go crazy reading and listening to these brilliant people. lol One of the more recent of these is Richard Feynman. I've read pages and pages of what he has written! 

The other night I was watching a two hour video with Lawrence Krauss debating an apologist on the topic "Is Science Killing God?  Great way to spend a couple of hours while doing other things, but it brought up some questions for me. Mainly meta-questions.

Read This!
Mainly questions such as these:  Are the devout believers holding on so hard and fast because they can see that the light is growing and is just outside of the door? Do they have the instinct that their belief systems are losing their power, light, meaning with the advent of more and more reason and logic in the good people of the world? Is it possible that the strong, Evangelical effort to take over the halls of power in my beloved America are doing so out of a fear of the impending, undeniable strength of the secular world? Are they playing these cards because they know that their hand is weak and that their only move is to bluff? Are they responding to a deep-seated fear? Are they acting more and more fundamentally because they feel backed into a corner as more and more of our scientific understanding explains things?

In a way, I feel tremendous compassion for the good believing people of the world who are, hopefully, living in the final generations of religiosity on this planet, who are seeing their long-held beliefs crumble before reason and logic. I remember how difficult it is to come out into the light. I remember fighting it. To me, much of their fight and loud voices remind me of someone backed into a corner, willing to come out fighting. The reasonable points of view are too compelling. Good and wise people are out there speaking their words into our eyes, ears, and hearts, speaking openly and clearly so we can all hear them.

I know that most of the world is still very religious, superstitious.  But I see a wonderful growth of secularism. I hear voices finally free to laud logic loudly. 

I feel a tremendous uprising of Humanism, Secularism, Atheism!  Do you feel it? Is it my own small portion of the world only?  I sincerely hope not.

They have a new claim for us! I have heard it; so have you. I had a person tell me that I actually do have in science. The person went on to say that I worship science. She made the most remarkable claim:  that science is my god.

Where does such nonsense come from?
Man, how I would LOVE to be in the room with the folks as they write this stuff, with those religious leaders who stand at the pulpits and tell people these little gems. YES, they actually tell these things to the people who are looking to them for guidance. Better yet, I would love to see George Orwell respond to them! Yes, he would say, you are correct! And black is white! It is sad to think of people looking for guidance, for comfort, for truth, and getting this kind of confusion and fear...

One of the the problem for the good believers of the world is that religion has claimed, co-opted some very good and useful words:  blessing, faith, belief, etc... These words, though, are not owned by anyone!  The meaning of these co-opted words can be as beautiful and as varied as the people that use the words. Words are not tiny, hard, immovable things.

Do I Have Faith?

So, when a believer uses the word faith, they are referring to faith over all, including doubt. Likely there are people who are religious who use this word their own way. But when I use the word faith in this post, I am referring to the propensity to trust in that which has happened again and again.
  • I absolutely have faith that my husband to fill the gas tank before bringing the car home.
  • I have faith that John to tell the absolute truth.
  • I have faith that my friends will love and support me.
  • I have faith that the car to start when I turn the key.
  • I have faith that the fan to keep me cool.
  • I have faith that the tide to come in.
  • I have faith that Elizabeth will absolutely come alive at the beach or near bodies of water.
  • I have faith that the kookaburras will sing loudly at 4 am.
Not because I ignore facts and nature. Not because I fervently wish for these things but because the ones that I have faith in have acted in dependable ways upon which I can count again and again. My senses have seen, heard, felt, touched the evidence. Faith, but not in the slim, small, restrictive use of the word!

In this sense, YES, I have complete faith in the scientific method, in reason, in secularism.
But "faith" isn't really a word I'd use. Instead, I would say that I understand why secularism is real and true.

Yet another example of words that religion Does Not Own.

If you are an atheist parent with a blog, 
please consider submitting a blog post to

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homeschooling in Australia: Surf Class!

This morning was John's second surf class. 
The class is down at a gorgeous beach called Currumbin Beach.  The weather was quite breezy and beautiful and absolutely perfect, as usual.  It was about 85 degrees F with with enough cloud cover to keep it from getting too hot from the sun.  I doubt I will ever ever complain about the weather here.  It's just too perfect.
Today was no different.  The events of the day were simply All Aussie.  We had waves, whales, and witty friends!
Last week at the first surfing class the tide was in and the kids were taking their lessons in this lovely, mild little cove. Today the tide was out and the lessons were much further out and not quite as mild. But the water is still only about waste-high at its deepest. John struggled to get onto the board, but he finally did hang himself some ten!

During the lesson, a pod of whales was spotted off in the distance, maybe half a kilometer away...quite close! We saw at least three adults and one baby! I tried getting some video; finally got some in another spot down the beach. In the meantime, I did get a few good flukes on some pics.
I love this shot because you can see how close they were! 
Notice the surfer in the foreground?

Off in the distance behind the surfers you can see the town of Surfer's Paradise, sitting like a gem in the distance! No camera I know of could capture the beauty of this view! But I've tried! The beaches in Surfer's Paradise are stunning.
That is John, second from the left
Here at Currumbin is this amazing finger of land sticking out into the water creating a lovely, safe, gentle beach. At the end of that finger of land is a HUGE stone and plenty of tidal pools. It is a gorgeous place, hey. As usual, there is no way to capture the grandeur of this huge stone.
See the kid climbing on the rock?

Now see how large and remarkable it is?
It was a LOVELY day for whale watching from the beach!
After the lesson the kids hung out on the beach and in the water, exchanged Facebook and Tumblr information, and planned on a movie this coming Friday.
Dear Friends
 Welcome to readers in Thailand and Canada!
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