Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nativity 2014

Joybug with the sleeping Baby Jesus (Skipper)
Every other year since Tiger was born, we have had a baby to put in the manger at Christmas.

This year was Skipper's turn.

Today the children took part in the Christmas play at Holy Cross Lutheran church in Burrumbuttock. Tiger and Princess read parts for puppets, Tank played a wonderful shepherd, The Man was an amazing wise man and Joybug chose to be the star.

Surrounded by adoring children...and crowns cast down...
quite theologically appropriate!
But the highlight for everyone was baby Jesus, who was played by our Skipper. He had a trial run on Friday during the rehearsal and since he was so still and quiet then (he was in wonderment at the puppets above him) he was allowed to try it during church.

It was sleep time, so a gentle wrap and a dummy was all that was needed. He was surrounded by the little children taking his hand and all obviously in love with him...and so he fell fast asleep.

The adults were more than just a bit impressed. His timing...impeccable.

Afterwards Tiger and Princess put on some dress ups
for a family nativity scene
Christian spoke only a short message, but an important one: We have all been invited to God's party, we all have been given a gift.
Our children, like all the children we know, are in love with
 babies...particularly this one.

Jesus is the gift.

Given FOR YOU.

Not to those people over there, for YOU.

To paraphrase Martin Luther's words: It doesn't matter if Jesus came into the world if he didn't come for you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Renovations part 1

We've bought a 130 year old's a beautiful home, but there is a lot of work that can be done to get things more liveable.

Project number 1: Curtains.

There were only see through curtains in the girls room (designed so they could see out but you can't see in). So since we came from Queensland, our dear children all thought they were being put to bed in the middle of the day. 7pm is rather bright during daylight savings!

I worked hard on this project, and sewed curtains for the boys room and then the girls room and then our room and finally worked out some curtains for the study/baby room. All the curtains for the bedrooms are made with triple weave fabric that is thermal and also 95% block out. The result was just what I wanted. I've also sewed some curtains for the two bathrooms (so we can see out but you can't see in). My favourite curtains would be in our room...they look heritage. Or are they in the kids bathroom, where the curtain has little animal shapes all over it...cute!

Project number 2: Pantry

I wanted to have more storage in the house in general, but here the storage was poorly worked out, and food being central to our life and entertaining guests...this was an urgent project.

My wonderful father took on the task. Tiger was faithfully by his side, and quickly showed his grandfather that he is indispensable! Tiger worked as hard as his grandfather, not shirking when the other kids were playing. It was a hard job, and whilst not beyond my amazing was a little harder than we both thought. The pantry is just over 3 metres long and over a metre and a half wide. It's a great size for a growing family. I just need to order an extra shelf for each section up the top.

I think the result is wonderful! Thanks Tiger and Dad.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Harvest 2014

I've never been a farmer...but I've always admired them from afar.

It's a menacing look on a photo, and I wouldn't want to get
in his way, but still beautiful...and amazing that I got a shot.
Sure we owned 6 acres in the Snowy mountains for a few years, but we never tried to run anything other than a horse on it, and it was not arable land.

But here, in Burrumbuttock (gotta love the name)'s harvest time.

It's nearly 10pm and I can still hear the header whirring. It's a high pitched sound, with the low drone of motors from the harvester under toning it. Ordinarily, it's the kind of sound that would have annoyed me in the city...annoyed me a lot. But here, it's a sound that makes me feel excited.

A full paddock of ripe wheat (which is what our neighbours all had this afternoon) is a beautiful sight. Even more beautiful, after 20ml or more of rain in the past week, is hearing the headers take the wheat, knowing that it's now safe. Over and over since I heard the headers this afternoon I've been singing in my head "Bringing in the Sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves!" It's an old song, but it matches the excitement.

The Seven Silos tonight.
Our front verandah looks out on a large paddock with seven silos. Tonight there were multiple vehicles there with their lights on as they delivered their wheat. As I was walking and watching and feeling the excitement of the night, I heard one of them whoop. I know this can be a great time for farmers, the culmination of the best part of the year of planning, working and praying that the weather goes their way. It's good to be able to share in their excitement as we see our lonely lane become a bustling road of trucks, utes, tractors, headers, harvesters and chaser bins.

Tomorrow, Christian is installed as Pastor here in the Burrumbuttock parish, with 4 congregations and 5 preaching points. They have been vacant for three years. But they have not been idle, there has been much activity going on in the absence of a pastor. We pray there will be much to harvest here...and many good plantings and harvests in the future too.

Friday, November 21, 2014


What a strange name!

Well we have moved here and have been in our new home all of a week. There is SO much to do with  all the unpacking, but there is also the exciting outdoors. We have bought a 13 acre property that used to be the West Burrumbuttock school (for a very short time 100 years ago). And with our property we have inherited a horse, Lorien (yes that's a Lord of the Rings name in honour of my horse rearing Grandma), 20 or so Dorper sheep (they naturally lose their own wool, so no shearing required), two ducks named Mopsey and Flopsey (who started to lay when we arrived), and three guinea fowl (whom the children named) Bash, Dash and Crash (apparently they will help keep away the snakes because they are so territorial).

The house we are living in is 130 years old, and used to be the Principal teacher's house for the school. So we are returning the property to it's original use after a long time. Look forward to more reports of our exploits. We are looking forward to finding some artefacts from the time this place was a school. Already this week we have found a glass bottle that was clearly a small cordial drink bottle from some time ago.

We are surrounded by paddocks and no houses are in is quite blissful! says of our little town:
Burrumbuttock is a small village 32 kilometres north west of Albury onthe Albury-Urana Road. The early settlement began in 1839 at the "Burrumbuttock Station" which was at that time 30,000 acres on both sides of an unfenced track stretching from Jindera Gap towards Walbundrie. The present town has a number of buildings including a General Store and Post Office, Primary School, Farmers Inn Hotel established in 1880 and the Holy Cross Lutheran Church dedicated in 1877. It has a population of 150 people. The Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre is a four hectare area featuring a large dam constructed in 1902

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Homeschool Heart Studies

A while back I bought a quarter of a beast and was asked if I would like any of the offal. I asked for the heart thinking that we would dissect it with the kids. I loved dissection in school! And the kids don't seem to be that different.

Daddy being a doctor knows all about the heart, so today was his lesson. He really got into it and so did the kids. We didn't ask them to get out their pencils, but they couldn't help themselves. Tiger and Princess were taking notes and asking for the spelling of different parts. Tank was drawing his own diagram of the heart, and he had it looking pretty good too.

Daddy talked about the four chambers of the heart, how the blood is oxygenated and how the heart has valves to keep it going back the wrong way. He cut out a valve to show the children and they talked about how this is a life saving operation for some people where they replace the valve with a pig's heart valve.

Each of the kids got a chance to feel the scalpel in their hand. Daddy was concerned that they understand just how very sharp a scalpel is, and nervously we watched on.

All of our kids were deeply engrossed in what they were seeing. They asked fantastic questions.

This is one of the reasons we homeschool. Our kids getting expert information, no holes barred, all questions thoughtfully answered.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sister's Beach, Tasmania

Looking into Bass Strait
On Tuesday we woke at 3am to get to Brisbane. But our plane was late leaving. We arrived in Hobart and had lunch there. On the way to Sister's Beach we stopped at Campbelltown and played at a park there. But we had no idea just how far it was to Sister's Beach (North West Tasmania) and so we had to stay in Devonport.

The next day we went to the beach at Devonport and played at the rock pools and got wet, and then played on the awesome play equipment. The park was close to the beach and we saw a ship come in. By late afternoon we arrived at Sister's Beach and went down to play the beach before dinner.

On Thursday we had planned to walk around Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain, but we were all really tired from our big first day. So we went to Rocky Cape Cave. Before visiting the cave we went to the little beach there. The water there was gorgeous and again we got wet! We couldn't go into the cave because of the Aboriginal significance. They used to feast on shell fish there and we could see the midden (left over shells) everywhere. In the afternoon, after a good sleep by all, we took a walk to see the local caves. We left rather late, and on our way home Princess, Joybug, Mummy and Baby were a bit slow in walking. By the time the girls reached the car the sun was down, but there was still enough light for us to see the way to the car.

On Friday morning, whilst Mummy and Daddy finished the clean up of our lovely little holiday house the kids went for a wander down to the creek. Tank came back all excited. He had seen a platypus! Tiger saw it too! We all walked down and stood around quietly watching for another 15 minutes, but the platypus was too shy. It's known that a platypus lives there.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tasmania Spring 2014

Cascade Female Factory (Hobart) ...our only entire family photo.
We have just returned from our annual holidays. This year we took 2 and a half weeks together. Just as we were deciding where to go for our holidays a wedding invitation arrived from a dear friend in our destination and timing were chosen for us.

We had a fantastic time! We carefully chose an itinerary, and wrote it down in our family holiday journal.

Our journal is now an amazing record of a wonderful holiday, from which we will share our adventures.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tiger Saves The Day


Tiger saved the day by putting out a fire in some straw. The kids were having a fire when suddenly one of the kids (we don't know who) started a fire in some straw, Daddy was in the kitchen when one of the kids came in saying that there was a fire in the straw. Luckily by the time Daddy came out Tiger had already got the hose out and was putting out the fire. After that Daddy heavily interrogated the kids but of course no one admitted to it.

By Tiger

Thursday, June 26, 2014

David Livingstone

David Livingstone 

David was born in Lanarkshire AD 1813. As a child, David Livingstone worked in a mill in Lanarkshire 14 hours every day, for six days a week. That meant that it left David little time to go to school. David loved science. In those days many people believed that science and Christianity did not go together, which meant that David could not study science. But one Sunday morning a book sent by a Dr Dick was read in the Congregational Church that the Livingstone family attended. The church was captivated by this book that said science and Christianity could  go together! David was relieved that he could now become a Christian and still study Science.

David believed that God was calling him to be a medical missionary, and the more he prayed about it the more he felt he should become a missionary.

David decided to go to college. After he made some quick calculations he discovered that if he saved every spare penny he earned at the mill for three years he could go to Anderson College for a term, which was the cheapest College in Glasgow that he could find.

When he got to college he started studying right away. His main goal was to become a missionary in China and to also become a doctor. He finished term one in Anderson College and headed back home. When the time came for term two he did not have enough money to go back to College, so his older brother gave him enough money as was the custom in those days. After finishing his terms in Anderson College he was sent for further training at the London Missionary Society offices in London. After training some more and having occasional mishaps, like forgetting a sermon, David was ordained as a pastor and a missionary. But the problem was that he could not go to China because of the Opium Wars. So after talking to another missionary who was stationed at Kuruman in Africa he decided to go to Africa.

David Livingstone mapped most of the unexplored places in Africa. And he learned there languages but he had a few mishaps with some of the languages. When he was preaching a sermon about sin he discovered later that he was preaching against cow dung. Many of the tribes he visited had problems with lions  eating their livestock. Once at Kuruman David got attacked by a lion  when he helped the tribesman protect their livestock. The lion had pinned him to the ground and made a huge gash in his arm, he also broke a few bones. He was rescued by his African interpreter.

He went back to England and wrote a book describing his adventures and explorations and became famous. He met with Queen Victoria and talked with her about his explorations. He told her that when he was in Africa some of the Africans had asked him how many cows she had, and that why had he never met his big Chief. She laughed and was amused.

He married Mary Moffat, daughter of the director of the Kuruman mission station and had six children and didn’t spend much time with them. Once one of his daughters did not recognise him. 

David went back to Africa and soon people thought that he was dead. So an American newspaper the New York Herald sent Henry Stanley an explorer to find David. He found him in Ujiji on the coast of lake Tanganyika, and greeted him with the famous line “Doctor Livingstone I presume”.

David also hated the slavery that was going on around the area he was traveling in. 
He died in a village on the coast of lake Tanganyika in 1873. His attendants wrapped his body in bark and tar and the took it to England were it was buried in Westminster Abbey.

I like David Livingstone because he was an explorer who never gave up and also because he found unknown places such as “The smoke that thunders” (Victoria falls) and Lake Tanganyika. 

Essay by Tiger 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Creepy Crawlies at Ravensbourne

We went out for lunch today because it was Tank's birthday yesterday. We then decided to go bushwalking at Ravensbourne National Park. Mummy warned us that we needed to watch for leaches and ticks.

We had fun walking until Joybug found a leach on her and from then on everyone was worried that they had leaches or ticks on them. When we got back to the car park Mummy checked us for tick and leaches, two on Tiger, two on Joybug, one on Princess and one on The Man. Mummy was surprised that Tank managed to get nothing.

When we got home, after baths and during devotions Tank started to itch. Mummy found a tiny tick on Tank. It was no bigger than a pin head and Daddy got out our digital microscope to take pictures. Tank was really brave and enjoyed having a good look before we got the tweezers and pulled it out. It was still alive crawling about on some paper, so Daddy killed it and we made sure that it was dead.  

By Tiger

Friday, May 2, 2014

Our Best News for 2014!!

Checking monitors and helping Noah remember to breath
As a family, we would like to introduce you to the newest member of our little clan.

Noah Wesley Fandrich

Born on April 24th at Toowoomba Base Hospital by emergency caesarean at 1:37am because Sarah Joy went into labour. He weighed in at 9lbs or 4070 grams.

We had planned to have the caesarean on April 24th, at 8:30 or 9am. But during the afternoon of Wednesday 23rd I started having some very strong contractions (I had these on and off throughout the pregnancy, causing one hospital stay at 26weeks). After the kids were in bed I had time to sit down and notice the timing, and we realised we had to forego a good sleep and head to the hospital.
Happy to have him to ourselves on rooming in night.

Our fine young men.
It turned out we did a good thing. Noah inhaled merconium that was in the waters, and this meant he had trouble breathing. He was taken fairly quickly to the Special Care Nursery, put on CPAP to assist his breathing for two days. But was kept in hospital for 7 days until his breathing was completely back to normal. This was a very difficult time for Sarah Joy as she had to be present for all feeds (you get out of hospital quicker when feeding is established), and it's hard communicating and asserting your needs, wants and desires to others regarding your baby when you are tired and unwell and they have their own plan for your baby that they don't want to divert from.

Noah is now back to almost full health, a wee bit of jaundice and a few feeding issues due to having to give him expressed milk via bottle to get him out of hospital (needed all suck feeds and he wasn't up to that just yet). Sarah Joy has quite a few weeks of recovery to go, but needs to be constantly reminded to go and lie down. It's hard to sit still when you feel that your brain is functioning properly (which really it isn't because I am so tired and change from third person to first person in one sentence!).

Noah means rest or comfort. Noah in the Bible was a godly man who trusted and obeyed God, building an ark to save not just his family but a pair of each kind of animal on earth. Saving creation through water of the great flood, where all the world was covered. Through the water of baptism, we too are saved. We pray that Noah, who is already our rest and comfort will be a godly man, following Christ even when all turn away.
Home at last!!

The name Wesley comes from the great hymn writer Charles Wesley. One of 19 children, homeschooled by his mother, Charles was a leader of the Methodist movement with his brother John, and wrote over 6000 hymns, many of which are our favourites. Christian really likes: "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending", and my all time favourite hymn is: "And Can It Be That I Should Gain". Other great Hymns are:

  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
  • Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
  • O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • Rejoice, the Lord is King
  • Ye Servants of God

Our first family photo, with Granny

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tiger's Third Big Boys Camp

Day One: We set off from home after saying our good byes. While we were driving we listened to Robin Mann's "Altogether All Right" CD. It started raining just outside Gatton, and I hope it gets to the farmers. We got the hotel at last, it took us quite some time before we found it and then we had to find somewhere to have dinner. Then we watched the movie Luther. It is a very astonishing movie, with a lot of debate and and arguing.

Day Two: We went to the Rock Sports Climbing Centre and we were instructed by Ross. It was really scary climbing up so high but I managed it. Then we went to the Storey Bridge to climb it. We got to wear really cool suits with cool accessories such as belts, torches and lots more. Altogether we climbed 1,156 stairs. There were lots of storys about Brisbane and how the bridge was built. The engineer of the bridge was also the engineer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the highway that runs under both bridges is the Bradford Highway after the engineer John Bradford. Amazingly the colour of the Storey Bridge is Saint Enoch's grey. There was a true story about a building that was the tallest building in Brisbane but another building was built that was going taller next tallest building in Brisbane, so it went to court and the judges said that the first building could have a pole on top so that it was taller than the second building.

Day Three: We got to go swimming in the hotel pool which was really fun. We continued reading the book about boys growing up. Then we went home without even having lunch, which we had at home.

By Tiger

Editor's note: Each year since turning 8, Tiger and Daddy have two nights away. It's a "male bonding" time, where together they choose the activities. But primarily it's a part of our training our boys to be real men, and Christian's chance to focus his attention on giving our boys the Biblical perspective on all aspects of sex (being a man, how we treat women, why we wait for marriage, etc).

Monday, March 17, 2014

School Hijacked!

School has been hijacked this morning. Actually, this seems to happen often in our house. Today the hijacker was the guitar.

Last night, before bed I asked Princess what instrument she would like to learn other than the piano, suggesting voice and about to suggest recorder (it's a beautiful instrument, when played properly, in fact King Henry IIIV used to play it - although that may not give it a good reputation either). She told me that yes, she wanted to sing, but that she would like to learn to play the guitar as well.

So I taught her the chords A and D and told her that when she had those down I would show her G, which I showed her anyway, but didn't expect her to remember.

This morning, I woke to her playing the guitar over and over, and starting to play "Jesus Loves Me". She even managed to work out when the chord changes should happen, as we don't have this song written down. Tiger began playing his guitar with her, and then changed to using the same chords on the piano to try that out, improvising with the chords to change the sound/arrangement of the song. Then a swap and Princess was doing the same.

I "should" have stopped this experimentation a good hour ago for chores, or at least half an hour ago for "proper" school work. But this is a REAL education. After all, just over a year ago we gave Tiger a guitar for his birthday (September) and even though we were away for over a month after that he managed to bypass my abilities by Christmas! Why? Because he played ALL the time, every time I called him I was calling him away from his guitar. I laugh now, because we both used to get quite annoyed by it (me that he wouldn't quit playing, and he that he was interrupted). It takes a bit of self control on my part, but the learning they get out of this is better than 20 minutes a day, because right now they are passionate, and when yoyo are passionate about something learning is SO fast!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homeschool Mums Are Courageous!

Courage: The confidence to act in accordance with one's beliefs. (Free online dictionary)

Homeschool Mums live this out every day. We are going against the grain of society. Everyone else (okay not everyone, but some days it feels like it), sends their kids to conventional school. And little old me? Why, I keep my kids at home.

And so I live with the critical questions that certain family members make. The questions that strangers ask, the questions that even some of my best friends put out there sometimes…and the questions that I ask myself. It's a burden I would much rather do without!

I want to put it out there…

Yes! In the words of John Denver: "Some days are diamonds, some days are stones."

Yes! I question what I am doing. Do I have the strength? Is this what I really want? Yes to the later at the least.

Yes! I struggle with patience. So does everyone who has kids and is honest.

Yes! It's true, my house is not a home you would see in a magazine. But then I'm still not sure I would want that.

Yes! I'm human. Nothing "super mum" about what I do. We live out every day.

As a family, we have made choices. They suit us. We don't expect they will suit everyone else. I don't see the point in being critical about others choices to send their children to school. Our choices won't work for everyone else. To go against the tide of popular opinion is hard. But it seems our family does that not only in our homeschooling but also in our decisions regarding family size.

So what are the other options? I could go to work. And you know what, it would be easier in so many ways. I could send my kids to school, and it too would be easier in so many ways. But for us it's not about what is easier, it's about what we believe.

We homeschool because we believe in what we do. The bringing up of our children truly is the most important job we have and we will put all our energy into it (second only to our marriage). We believe that our children's ability to think freely and explore widely (and wildly) is really important. We believe that time spent together as family is also really important. We believe that our children should be abel to make friends with children and adults of all ages. And we also believe the Faith that we teach to our children in our home is invaluable.

Others homeschool for other reasons, that are valid in their own right. But each of us goes against the grain of society. And that makes homeschool mums courageous. Not super, not necessarily confident in everything, but courageous.

Not content to go where everyone else is headed, we tread the path less travelled.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Princess is Born!

With Daddy…doesn't he look young without the beard!
Princess, Princess…How we love thee!

Before she was born, Christian and I decided to do everything possible to give us a chance of a natural delivery. After much discussion, we decided on a "Hypnobirthing" class. I was concerned about the "spiritual" implications of such an "new age" concept, but Christian assured me, that for pain relief hypnosis was something that had been used for a long time in the medical community and in this form had nothing to do with other spirituality.

It was the Hypnobirthing or the "Calm Birth" class that we did with Peter Jackson (remembered his name because of the famous one who made the Lord Of The Rings films) that changed everything in this birth.

Three generations of women.
Labour started as I was sitting at the computer one evening. I was on the phone to Mum and noticing the back ache that I just couldn't get comfortable with. Eventually I realised that it was coming in "waves" that coincided with my tummy getting tight, and mentioned it to Mum. She told me to call hubby who was on call at the hospital that night and had not yet come home. I made the call. We waited half an hour to be sure, and then Christian called in the other doctor from our practice who was to back him up (my obstetrician…didn't think about him needing a good sleep!). Christian was rather stoked to get off call. Mum got in the car and made her way across the Snowy Mountains from Wagga to Cooma.

Getting to meet Tiger.
When she arrived she was surprised to find us up, happy and very calm. She sent us to the hospital, telling us she would look after Tiger. We went, but I wasn't in "proper" labour yet. Our doctor would time our labour from when I hit 4cm.

So Christian and I were put in a room in the maternity unit and left to ourselves. He slept in the chair, I slept on the bed, and together we worked as one through contractions. When we did hit 4cm we worked a bit more actively (moving about and other such things), but our doctor was keen to watch us. He was well aware that my pain level should be the same as it had been with Tiger. Princess was presenting posterior (as was Tiger), but apart from being uncomfortable in my back, there was little to no pain.

Christian and I worked together. The doctor, our dear friend and colleague, was in awe. Looking back it was indeed a beautiful time. Christian read to me passages from the Bible, gave me soft touch, I breathed, and went in and out of "hypnosis". It was a special bonding time for both of us.

But time ran out.

Dr Learoyd gives us our first look of Princess.
We were in a country hospital and had been given a 12hour period to labour, since I was trying for a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean. Time to intervene had arrived. At the time they put in the epidural I was 8cm, but at next look I was 10cm. We were all very hopeful that we could deliver.

But for an hour doctor pulled (ventouse or vacuum) and I pushed. Our little girl was high, very high. Still floating the doctor said, and she would not come down. I kept trying until I was in theatre, but no, she was just too high!

Abigail Grace arrived at 10:30am on Sunday morning, hearing first her Daddy's voice give her name and then the doctors as they sang Happy Birthday to her.

Still in theatre being stitched up
The doctor they had called in to do the anaesthetic was enjoying taking photos (he was from the other practice in town). We got our best photos of this birth…but in his excitement he failed to notice that the anaesthetic was wearing off, and I decided not to tell. I used my calm birth skills to work through the stitches of the last two or three layers that I could feel. When they pushed me out to recovery they were exceedingly surprised to discover that I could already move my toes, and moved me straight on to the ward.

Our Princess was the most wonderful placid, happy baby. My recovery was also amazing. The next day was Christian's birthday, and we left baby in the hospital under the care of nurses whilst we went to a Chinese restaurant in town with Mum and Tiger. We left hospital two days later.

Still asked if these two are twins. Have ever
since she was about 8months old. Perhaps
it's because they are such good friends.
Princess continued to be an amazing little baby. No feeding problems! To this day no antibiotics! To this day no medical concerns! We are so grateful for this young lady.

P.S. I do not regret this second caesarean. I know our doctor gave us the best medical care that he possibly could give us at the time. I am so grateful that medical intervention exists to help our mama's like me. A missionary friend just told me that 1 in 7 women die in childbirth in PNG. Intervention in Australia may be high, but too often my "home birthing" friends belittle those of us who need to use it.