Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Speech Boot Camp

Last week, we completed ‘Speech Boot Camp’, a public speaking course from the ‘Institute for Excellence in Writing’.  The course is presented as a set of DVDs and is purely a ‘plug in and go’ curriculum – very easy to implement.  The lessons learned can be applied not only to public speaking, but also to many different everyday activities.  I have to say, we enjoyed this course immensely, and I am incredibly proud of the effort my children put into the course, and the quality of their orations.

Speech Boot Camp consists of 4 x DVDs.  The teacher and student notes are printed out, and armed with a DVD player, a pencil, and table or music stand (we happened to own a lectern – but of course, this is not necessary),  you can began the course.  Originally, the DVDs were filmed over a 4-day period, and the students involved needed to write and present four separate speeches in that time.  However, the lesson plans break the course into 11 sessions (with an optional 12th session), which can be done over the course of 11 weeks, 11 days, or however you choose to implement it.  We opted to do 2 lessons per week, meaning that it would take us 6 weeks.  Students are required to give 4 talks during that time:  a self-introduction speech, a narrative speech, and expository (or descriptive) speech, and finally a persuasive speech.  The time of each speech varied from 3 minutes up to 7 minutes, and students are required to write a key word outline, much the same as if they were writing an essay, and then present the speech in the following lesson. 

As always with products from IEW, students are not just given topics and told to go away and prepare their talk.  Full instructions are given as to ‘how’ to go about the process, and as well, sample student speeches were presented on the DVD.  In this way, the students know exactly what is required of them.  They are given suggested topics, but the actual subject matter remains the student’s own choice, and we found that, even though there were only four of us completing the course, we came up with a wide variety of topics.  These included entertaining stories, cats vs dogs, digital cameras, and even ‘how to write a speech’.   Feedback forms are given out at the beginning of each presentation, and students are asked to provide comments and suggestions for each other.  This can become a little ‘dicey’, especially where siblings are involved, however, I found my children gave each other fair and honest comments, and offered praise and encouragement to each other. 

We learned much about speaking, preparing a speech, and standing before an audience, and we found the course to be fun and most educational. I think the worst moment we had in the entire course was when I began my descriptive speech with a joke, only to discover that by doing so, I sent myself into a giggling fit, and was almost unable to present the rest of my talk (Lesson learned – for me, it’s probably best not to use too much humour)!  During the final disc, Mr Pudewa introduced a singing teacher to speak about breathing, stance, and to give the students some exercises they could do to prepare themselves before speaking in front of an audience.  This was well timed in our case, for the following day marked the beginning of our Christmas Carol performances, and the hints and tips certainly did help!  And of course, they also helped as we presented our final oration to our little group.  I had hoped to video the favourite speech of each student as a final, lesson 12, however, my children disagreed, and so I need to be happy with just a photograph of each child.
All in all, we enjoyed the course very much.  Andrew Pudewa, as always, was most entertaining, often leaving us in stiches with laughter.  If there’s one person who knows how to engage an audience, it is he!  The programme was so easy to use, and at around 1 hour per lesson time, it allowed us to use the course, yet still have time to complete our other studies.  A quick read through of the teacher’s page was the only preparation time needed for the teacher – unless of course, you decide to join the class to present the speeches as well – in which case, you also need to find some time to write a speech before each lesson.  And I would encourage you to do so.  The lessons you learn about what to do, how to stand, how to speak, etc. will serve you well in any form of public speaking (or singing) that you need to do in the years to come.  This has certainly become on of my favourite IEW products, and without doubt, we will be using Speech Boot Camp again in the future.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago today, I found myself in the labour ward - the birth took quite a while, and it seemed our new baby couldn't make up her mind as to when she'd make her grand entrance into the world.

The doctor was called several times - and it so happened that this particular day was the day he had all his family over for their Christmas BBQ!  I think he missed most of it......

But in the end, our beautiful daughter arrived, and we were delighted with our newest 'little ray of sunshine'.

Helena and I have certainly had our share of ups and downs - born with 'autistic tendancies', life could be tough, and we had to work through many challenges.  But, you'd never know it these days!  She's loving, outgoing, a wonderful student, and an excellent musician.  She is, quite simply, a pure delight to have around, and both her parents are extremely proud of her.

Happy Birthday, Helena!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Secret Rainforest, Part 2

Having finished our school work yesterday, I managed to find a couple of hours today for that 2nd Rainforest Painting.  Here it is -

The Secret Rainforest, Part II

I may touch a few things up here and there, but it's mostly done.  Must remember to add some green paint to my shopping list, I used quite a bit on these two paintings!


Can you see the moth?

While bringing in the washing today, my girls discovered a large moth on an article of clothing.  So, my 14 yo found a stick, and gently removed the moth, only to discover that the stick almost perfectly camouflaged the moth.

When placed at the right angle, it was almost impossible to see it! Can you see the moth on the stick?

There were times when I could easily see it, and then, just with a slight twist of the stick or a change of light - it disappeared! 

Below, I've circled the moth, hopefully it's a little clearer:

Amazing creatures.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Symbols of Christmas

My youngest three girls love making lapbooks, and over the past couple of weeks, we've been creating one from 'Hands of a Child', on 'The Symbols of Christmas'.

Here is the finished lapbook:

We so need to do more of these next year: my girls love them, and they learn so much, and the lapbook is read over and over again, providing instant, and constant, review.

I've tried lapbooks from several different companies, and I've always found the ones from Hands of a Child to be easy to use, have accurate information, and the instructions are simple to follow. And, as they are available as ebooks, there's no worrying about those dreaded postage costs.


A Successful Day

There are days, and then, there are days.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle - it seems like I can never get everything done that needs to be done. And then, there are those other, strange days, which leave you in a daze, wondering, 'how did it all happen?'

Yesterday was one of those days. I knew it would be busy - we were singing at the hospital in the afternoon, and we had band practice for the carols in the evening.

By the time I was up, showered, and organised, I discovered that my darling children were already flying through their schoolwork - and had left a pile of marking that looked something like this:

Then, there was jam to make. I'd been given a heap of apricots, and they were very quickly ripening, so the night before, three of my teens had sat down and cut them all and placed them in the pot, ready for the next day. So, as I called out instructions while checking emails, my 19 year old got to it, and began boiling the fruit.

Given that it was our last 'Sing Australia' event for the year, we had been asked to take along something for a shared tea. My son had already worked out what he wanted to cook, so he and my 14 yo daughter headed to the kitchen:

While all this was happening, I began lessons with my three youngest girls. We read our daily Bible passages, and made the ornaments for our Jesse Tree:

Then, we continued working on our current lapbook: Symbols of Christmas.

After that, my 9yo continued to work on a book she is creating:

Having finished the lessons, I wandered into the kitchen, to find the jam cooked, as well as a lovely batch of quiches, all ready for the evening's gathering:

For the next hour, I helped Bill out in the office with organising emails and packing orders, before taking a little time out for a quiet cup of coffee.

Then, it was time to iron our shirts, and head off. Firstly, we visited the elderly in Jamestown hospital, and sang a few Christmas Carols:

After which we headed back to our usual meeting place for dinner and an extra sing-a-long. Many of our songs were conducted my my dear son:

He did a fantastic job!

And after all that, we headed just down the road for our final band practice before Sunday's performance:

We arrived home around 10pm - exhausted, but very happy - it had been a full day, to be sure, but a wonderful one, and I feel like we achieved so much in those few hours!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Horrible Histories

As I reflect back over our year, I'm realising that while we didn't cover everything I had planned, there were quite a few success stories.

We're still working on the times tables, and spelling is still a slight problem, but one thing my children can do, is to name every single king and queen of England from William the Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth II.

Impressive? I think so! And it's all thanks to the 'Horrible Histories' show, produced by the BBC. They created a song, which lists all the kings and queens, and my youngest three sat down one day, wrote down all the names, and memorised the song!

Who would've thought a silly show could actually be so educational? A few years ago, I would never have considered using such a show as part of our curriculum, but through watching it this year, they've learned stacks! And, it is so funny; and yet, it offers some amazingly accurate information.

While I wouldn't recommend it as your only history curriculum, the show certainly does a good job of bringing history to life, and making history way more interesting. After hurting my back earlier in the year, it became a ritual for a time - gathering in the lounge at 6.30pm for our daily dose of the hilarious history show.

We love the show so much that I've just bought the DVDs of the first two seasons. I wondered what the reaction would be when they arrived - and when I picked them up today, the children responded with a loud 'yippee!'. Yep, we're hooked! Haven't seen my children for some time now - still in from of the TV, no doubt....

A warning, though, if you decide to purchase the DVDs, buy the ones that are produced by the BBC - apparently, there is also a cartoon version out, which is no where near as good - I haven't seen it, so that's purely hear-say. In any case, my opinion here reflects the BBC version (with real actors).

So there you have it - one success for the year, and one I never would have attempted in a dry, dull way - learning the names of the all the Kings and Queens of England, from William the Conqueror until now.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Erin from Seven Little Australians has awarded me a Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks, Erin!

I'm fairly new to the whole blogging scene - that is, I've had a blog for a long time, but only recently began using it, and reading other people's blogs, on a regular basis. I find it quite a challenge to come up with 'new' ideas - but I've finally come to realise that blog posts do not have to be full of super ideas, but rather, they need to be 'real'.

Rules for the Versatile Blogger are:
  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
  • Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
  • Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
  • Contact those bloggers and let them in on the news.

Well, firstly - some things about 'me'.

1. I like to have everything in its place - and when something goes missing, it drives me crazy!
2. I enjoy watching 'historical' type movies - Robin Hood, Titanic, Historical Fiction-type stuff.
3. I like to paint Australian landscapes and old buildings - still much to learn, but I am very much enjoying the 'Len Hend' painting DVDs.
4. I love to study. I hold several certificates, including Certificates in 'Basic Accounting', 'Commercial Studies', and 'Comprehensive Writing'. I may yet decide to complete a degree sometime in the future.
5. I play the flute, and this year have joined a concert band.
6. I am a Michael Jackson fan, and have been since childhood.
7. I once played the part of 'Liesl' in 'The Sound of Music'.

Here are some of my favourite blogs that I've discovered these past few months:

1. Seven Little Australians
2. Aussie Coffee Shop
3. Roses, Tea and Our Lady
4. Every Bed of Roses Has Its Thorns
5. A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars
6. A Whole Hearted Catholic
7. Serenades and Solace
8. Cherished Hearts at Home

Now, I do have a few more on my list, but these are the blogs I have visited and found posts to inspire and to encourage. With limited downloads and limited time, I'm afraid I do not get to read many blogs on a regular basis.


The Secret Rainforest, Part 1

It's been quite a while since I have been able to complete a painting, and I've been desperately wanting to pull out my paints once more. I'd begun this painting a few months ago, but finally, I took some time out to finish it.

This painting is called, 'The Secret Rainforest', and it comes from a painting step-by-step DVD by Len Hend. Len is a fantastic artist, and I have several of his instructional DVDs. I've still several to work through, but they teach painting in a very different way - very hands-on, and he encourages generosity with your paints, applying it thickly, and quickly. He gives a full demonstration of each painting, and you paint right along with him. Of course, I had to stop the DVD on several occasions to catch up - he painted the one below in around 30 minutes - but it took me a little longer...

The Secret Rainforest, Part I

It looks just beautiful in a black frame; I'm quite chuffed with it!

And now the really good news! I've just discovered that Len is now offering free lessons on his web-site! If you've ever wanted to paint, especially Australian landscapes, I'd highly recommend you check it out:

where you'll find the sixteen free painting exercises, as well as the currently available DVDs. They make a wonderful gift, too, should you be looking for something for the person who 'has it all'. The exercises can be used by a complete beginner, and also by the more experienced artist.

Well, there is a 2nd painting on the 'Secret Rainforest' DVD, I wonder if I can find some more time, to make a start on it?


Thankyou for Being a Friend

On Wednesday, I went into town to visit with my Dad, who is 91, and now lives in the Old Folks' Home.

I was sitting with him, when suddenly, one of the ladies who works there turned to me, and greeted me with a lovely smile. I was a bit taken aback - usually, people happily ignore me in town (large family, Catholic, homeschooling and all that: I have the 'weirdo' label, and am considered the social outcast). However, she started chatting, asking how we were, etc., and then asked if we were still homeschooling. When I replied in the affirmative, she proceeded to invite our family to come and sing some carols with the people in the home in two weeks' time.

We have sung at the homes a few times now, and it is lovely to be asked for these things, however, I admit to feeling a little deflated - I felt as if I was only worth talking to when people want something of me, but no matter - we, of course, are delighted to help out.

I finished my visit, and Bill and I headed down to the local store, and picked up a few things. As we were leaving, another lady spied us, and greeted us with a loud, 'Hello my lovelies!' - throwing her arms out in a loving gesture. Now admittedly, this particular lady will always stop and say hello, and we've known her a long time. So jokingly, I said, 'Uh-oh! Nobody talks to us unless they want something - look out!'. She replied with something like, 'Oh, I'm sure that's not true - but since you mention it...' and proceeded to ask us to help out with the local town carols!

Once again, of course we're happy to be involved, and to help out. But sometimes, I'd really like to be greeted in the local street 'just because' I'm there. Yes, it happens on occasion, but for the most part, I feel shoved aside, ignored, and treated as if I just don't exist. Now, that probably has something to do with the fact that I had no friends in this town growing up, and that I was 'that' child in the class who was constantly picked on and bullied, but nevertheless, that's the way it is. (Why am I still here? you ask. Simply put - my parents need me)

However, I did not come home saddened. Over the past few years, we've had the opportunity to travel to various places, and I have been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people. I now claim to have those few, close friends that I never had previously - sure, I have to travel a fair way to visit with most of you, but you are there. When we had problems during in the year, you were there, in cyberspace, and with just an email or a message, I received your support and friendship. And of course, we do get to see you from time to time, and that time is very precious.

So, to my friends - those interstate, and those here in SA, I say thankyou. Thankyou for being there. You'll never know how much you mean to me, or how much you've helped me. Thankyou for simply being my friend.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 – Planning Time!

In 2012, I will have student in the following grades: 12, 11, 9, 7, 5 and 4.

Time for planning!

Our ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ thus far:


Everything IEW! We will have completed ‘Speech Boot Camp’ shortly – it’s been a blast. We’ll be continuing with: Student Writing Intensive as well as a couple of the ‘History Based Writing Lessons’ series next year.

Poetry for Memorization

Latina Christiana

Life of Fred maths for some, Teaching Textbooks for others, and Signpost Maths for the youngest ones.

Calculadder Math Drills

Science in the Creation Week

Apologia Science

Voyages in Literature

English for Australian Schools

Golden Children's Bible - we read a few pages, and the youngest three draw a picture and write about the reading. When we finish, they will have their own, illustrated book of Bible stories.

Didache Series – high school Religion.

Critical Thinking, Books 1 & 2

One Year Adventure Novel

Pure & Simple Computer Course

How Great Thou Art / Artistic Pursuits – These together form a good combination of drawing lessons and art appreciation.


Most things ‘phonics’ related. Why? Because my youngest will be in grade 4! Yep, we’re over the ‘K-3’ phase. Wow. (Don’t really want to think about that too much).

All About Spelling. Why? Because they’re ready to move on to The Phonetic Zoo. AAS has proven to be a solid, thorough, programme. We’ve used level 1 this year – which was admittedly below their level, but we got a good feel for the programme, and I was very impressed by it. However, we’re ready to move onto The Phonetic Zoo programme, and so we shall!

History Portfolios. Strange, isn’t it? What worked so beautifully for my older girls, is not working as well for my younger ones. Still working out exactly what we’ll do for history, but I plan to continue with Medieval History for Term 1, and then move onto Australian History (using The Wide Brown Land) for Terms 2-4.

ABCs of Christian Culture. Well, not out fully, or permanently, but the older ones are taking a ‘historical literature’ approach to history, followed by Australian History in terms 2-4.

The Magic Music Box for Music Appreciation (watch for blog post on this coming soon!)

New resource for 2012:

History Odyssey, Medieval. I’ve downloaded this programme, and I think it’ll work well for my very independent 14 year old. Very well laid out, and what’s more, we already have most of the resources needed – yippee!

Up until now, I've often grouped my three youngest together for things such as science, history and religion. That'll need to change soon - the gap is widening in their abilities. We'll see what happens about this next year.

Anyways……. Back to planning!


Digital Camera Suggestions?

So, my dear hubby announced to me yesterday he'd like to buy me a new digital camera! :dancesmiley:

I currently have a Canon Powershot A590 - it's served me well, but it does take some, well, not-so-good shots at times, and that can be frustrating.

So, it seems I'm in the market to upgrade.

I don't want a hugely expensive model - but something that will take good shots of children, shots in the daytime as well as at night, and nice landscape shots, for when we travel.

I like to photograph old buildings, and often I need to 'snap' these as we drive by - so it needs to be able to focus and take the shot quickly.

Preferrably have a decent MP size, as well as good optical zoom.

Anyone have any experience or knowledge in this area? I've looked at a few - Canon, Finepix, Nikon - and my head is spinning with confusion!

Problem being I don't really know what to look for. :please-help:



Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Jesse Tree

Well, after much discussion and looking at all of our options, we have begun our first ever 'Jesse Tree'.

I was able to download a wonderful resource, called, 'A Jesus Advent Celebration - A Jesse Tree Journey', by Ann Voskamp, at: www.aholyexperience.com

It is the most beautiful book!

Complete with Bible readings, ornaments to cut out and hang on the tree, and lovely, simple activities, designed to 'Unwrap more of His love in the world'.

We have begun the journey a little early - the first Activity is scheduled for November 29 - however, due to how crazy the holiday season can be, I thought it best to start early, and we may then have a chance to actually complete it.

We found a small tree, placed it in the corner near where we complete our school work, and each day, sit down and read the Bible passages, prepare the ornament, and discuss they day's readings.

It's a wonderful, simple way to remember the birth of Christ, how his coming was the fulfilment of prophecy, and all the events that led up to His birth.

Here's our youngest, hanging the first ornament. We're up to day 5 thus far - so far, so good! We're very much enjoying it.


Monday, November 21, 2011

DISC Personality Test:

DISC Personality Test:

My Results:

You are conscientiousness, diligent and pay attention to detail. You constantly strive for accuracy and high standards.
You have an inner drive to be systematic and precise in all that you do.
You are a natural choice for work that requires attention to detail and accuracy.

Compliance: Comparatively High
Here are some traits and behaviours that describe people who are comparatively high in Compliance:
· are usually peaceful and adaptable.
· tend not to be aggressive.
· tend to be cautious rather than impulsive.
· avoid risk-taking.
· act in a tactful, diplomatic way and strive for a stable, ordered life.
· are comfortable following procedures in both their personal and business life.
They prefer sticking to methods that have proved successful in the past. They have a high acceptance of rules and regulations.

Thanks to Therese at Aussie Coffee Shop for suggesting this test - it was interesting!


The Joys of Country Living

Well, it's been an interesting start to the week!

There we were, sound asleep at 6am this morning, when..... CRACK!

My poor daughter, who was in the next room, wondered what on earth had happened, but a quick dash to the room next door soon told all.....

yep, that would be a part of our dining room ceiling!

The rain the past week has been lovely, but the 'bow' in the dining room roof has been of some concern, and this morning, I saw exactly what had caused the undesirable bend. Water had come through the tin roof, and the insulation had kindly soaked it up - which of course led to an awful amount of weight on the ceiling.

Stumbling out of bed, we did some quick 'soaking up', with a bunch of towels, and dear hubby removed any excess weight and potential dangers, and then with a shake of his head, staggered back to bed, with that 'later' look in his eyes. I'm guessing there'll be a 'field trip' to the local hardware store later today!

You just never know what each day will bring, do you?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gotta Love It!

OH, how often I've felt this way!

I really do have great self-control in what I say. Sometimes, though, I remember the line from 'The Wizard of Oz', which goes something like:

"I'd love to tell you exactly what I think of you, but I'm too much of a Christian to do it!".

Not focussing on anyone in particular, just thinking aloud at 11:30 pm - time for bed, maybe?


Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Construction Project.

I stood in the hallway, staring. In front of me, I faced a housewife’s worst fear: a box. Should I dare open it? Well, I figured, it couldn’t hurt. I could just cut the ties, after all, and then, if need be, I could cry for help. Tentatively, I took the scissors in hand, and cut the constraints, and then proceeded to remove the contents.

I’d waiting for this package to arrive. ‘Some assembly required’, the ad had said – but exactly how much assembly was ‘some’? Last week, when our school-room shelves had arrived, I’d immediately invoked my usual, ‘Bill, Daniel – help!’ shriek. But this time, I was cautiously optimistic. Why should I always play the role of the damsel in distress? Was there any hope at all that maybe I could assemble this one? And all by myself?

The contents included 4 racks, 4 shelves, 2 baskets, and several clips, racks & screws. It was to be ‘all mine’ – a craft trolley – something that would make my life a whole lot easier and allow me to keep my supplies together in one, neat place. But of course, that would only be after I’d accomplished the ‘some assembly required’ bit.

Taking a deep breath, I began – I mean, how hard can it be, right? I did own a screwdriver, after all, and instructions were included. Carefully, I looked at Step 1. Yes! It made sense! In a flash, I proceeded to Step 2, Step 3, and even Step 4. It was looking good – the screwdriver was actually the right one, and I even put it together the correct way around. Things were going well.

But then, I needed to place the clips for the shelves on the wires. Whew – not easy. I pushed and heaved, but my silly wrists simply did not seem to have the strength I needed to get those clips to attach. But, I was not to be thwarted. I’d come this far, and I had confidence now. I would succeed! I figured that maybe by using some sort of tool, I could pry the clips open a little, thereby allowing them to attach with less force. And guess what? It worked! It took some time, but I found a tool the right size, and after some effort, figured out the best way to accomplish my goal.

Before I knew it, I found myself looking at step 8 – the final step! Simply add the runners and the baskets, and I would be done. Easy. I completed this last step in no time at all, and was soon standing back to admire my handiwork. MY work – I’d done it! Later, I was faced with all the difficult choices of what to put where, but eventually, I was able to pronounce my afternoon’s work ‘completed’.

For certain, some of you out there would find such a task to be a simple one, but for us who rely on our men-folk maybe a little too much, this construction project has proven to be a magnificent learning curve for me – and I’m quite proud of myself for achieving it!

Ta - Da! The finished project:


Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Adnil Press Site

Well, I did say that.....


It's now nearly 2am (much later than I'd intended!), and I've just uploaded the new Adnil Press web-site! :GOAL:

We have a new web host, a new domain name, and a completely new site.

The link is:

Note that there is now a '.au' on the end, although the old website address will still work, as we have a 're-direction' set up.

If anyone has the time or the inclination, I'd appreciate some feedback - please have a 'play' with the new site - add stuff to your 'cart', check out any links, sample pages, etc., and have a general read of the pages.

Given that this site has been built over the past few weeks, pretty much by me and me alone, I'm quite, er... 'google-eyed' :blink: , so don't be surprised if you find some errors - typos or incorrect product descriptions, or some broken links - I've proof-read it as best I can, but as I'm sure you all know, proof-reading your own work is not always successful, and it's easy to overlook something obvious.

The website is easiy updated and changeable, so if you find anything that is not displaying correctly or any other errors, please let me know. I had planned to launch the site on the 20th, so I'm treating the next few days as the 'trial' stage.

For now though, I'm off for some sleep! 'Night all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's Good News, and There's Bad News.....

First, the Good News.

1. Whenever someone placed an order through our site, we would copy and past the order onto our business computer, to our database. Therefore, we have a copy of all orders ever placed through the site.

2. As well as putting the products and pricing on our site, we kept a separate price list, which I manually typed up in Word.

3. Most of the blog entries and articles were also typed up and saved in Word before I put them on the site.

4. No delicate information such as credit card details were stored on the site.

5. I have managed to get in and put up a temporary, one-page site - so the inappropriate message on our home page has gone.

Now, the Bad News.

1. Unless my web host can miraculously find a backup of all the files (there is still one, slight glimmer of hope there), the site is gone. The hacker deleting everything.

2. In this case, it means we have no web-site, meaning we will literally have to begin again. That's hundreds of hours of work, gone. I've tried to find the words to describe how I'm feeling about it all - distraught comes to mind, but by no means covers it.

If we do need to start a whole new website, it will take time. One of the reasons we were reducing our stock was because I simply lacked the time to attend to everything. This situation has not changed. If we now need to rebuild and entire site - well, I just do not know when, how, or if this will happen.

Time to take a step back, breathe, and wait a little while.


PS. From now on, I'll be using the Adnil Press blog to update anything on this issue - thereby leaving Pillars of Pine as our family blog.

You can find the Adnil Press blog at:


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Adnil Press has been Hacked - Again....

Please be aware that Adnil Press has been hacked - again, and by the same person. There is a rather rude message on what would normally be the front page to our site, and our entire site is gone.

I'm at a loss, and have no idea how to fix it. I have received a rude email as well, from the person, telling me that because I put in a complaint to Paypal about the recent theft of Paypal funds that he took from us, he has done this deliberately, because I have now 'made him angry'.

Aren't you all glad that we never did go the credit card route, so we have no credit card details on the database?

Having said that, however, as the entire site is built online, if his claims are correct, all the data has been deleted, and even if we can get back into the site, there may not be much of one left.

We do have a copy of all orders that have been recently placed, so we can still send those out, however, if you need payment details, you'll need to email us at: adnilpress@ozemail.com.au - our email address is completely different to our website, so this has not been compromised.

If anyone has any suggestions for how to fix the problem or how to get our site back, please email me - otherwise, for now, Adnil Press is simply 'down and out'.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Speech Boot Camp

Several months ago, I added ‘Speech Boot Camp’ to our ‘to do’ list. Well, thanks to trips away, homeschool camps, and voyages on the sailing ship, our public speaking course was put on the back burner. That is, until this week.

We began on Monday. The first session involved watching a DVD, and then evaluating the sample speeches. As is always the case when watching Andrew Pudewa, we were in stitches! Andrew has such a superb way of presenting the material, so that even an assignment such as preparing and giving a speech comes over as something that is fun to do (very handy for nervous students!).

Three days later, it was time for us all to present our first speech. I decided it would be a good idea for me to join in with the class, and so, one by one we stood up to present our first speech – ‘Self-Introduction’. We even found an old lectern out in the shed, so we were well prepared, and with the addition of a ‘Speech Boot Camp’ sign, the atmosphere was set. Given that we are all from the same family, it was a little strange to introduce ourselves to each other, but despite that, we had some very interesting content, and it was especially interesting to hear about my teenager’s goals for the future.

And I have to say, I was very impressed! I was fairly certain my son would not have a problem with presenting a 4-5 minute talk, but I wasn’t so sure in regards to the confidence of my two teenage daughters. But what a fantastic job they all did. The talks were full of content, were interesting, and were presented in a most enjoyable way. We even learned a thing or two about each other that we didn’t know before.

We completed the lesson by offering feedback to each speaker, based on poise, locution, eye content and persuasion. Fortunately, most of the comments were positive, with just a few pointers where people could improve. The whole session went off remarkably well, and I’m only sorry that I was unable to video the talks. However, I did snap a few photos of our day. There are four talks to complete during the Speech Boot Camp course, so it will be most interesting to see how it all progresses.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Did you know….

Lesson for the day.

Did you know that, when making payment for products and orders via Paypal, that if you inadvertently enter in an incorrect email address and the payment goes through – ‘too bad, so sad, payment is gone, sorry’.

We’re learned that lesson in a rather painful way. Recently, some lovely person hacked into our website, and managed to change the automatic Paypal address that our payments should have been sent to. So, instead of sending it to our email address, Paypal payments were diverted to a fraudulent address. And, as the payments went straight through, Paypal say they cannot recover those funds, so it is up to us to politely ask for the money to be sent back. Yep – as if some thief is just going to say, ‘Oops – so sorry, of course you may have your money back’.

So, we’re left with the situation where our customers have, in good faith, followed the Paypal links and sent the payment, but, we have never received the funds. Of course, we’ve honoured the orders, but it means we’re out of pocket again (so, what else is new?).

I’m left wondering how often this happens? I can see the mistake happening so easily, and often. And of course, Paypal still take their little cut in fees, so it’s not a problem for them. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before. We live and learn.

In short, be very careful when sending Paypal payments, especially if you need to type in the email address manually. I had always assumed that if you made a mistake, you could recover the money, but no! Unless the email address you send it to does not exist or does not have a Paypal account, you can say ‘goodbye’ to your money. And then, either you, or your supplier, will be out of pocket, and some thug is made very happy.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Prayer: Matthew 22: 15-22

From our church notice sheet this week:

“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”


did you create the stars,
hurl them to the reaches of the universe;
did you issue rules that keep the planets in place?

Can you make blood course through our veins?
Or craft an otter or a moonflower?

Then keep your coins.
They can’t buy what we need.

It is your face we see
in our world, our very selves, our breath and love.

We owe every single thing to you.

Claim it all. Claim us.
Please take us
as your

— A. Osdieck. Copyright © 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rain, Sunshine, and Hail!

It's been a very interesting day (weather-wise)!

The day began with gloomy skies and rain, but this gave way to bright, sunny skies, and we therefore thought the wet conditions were over. Not so.

About 4pm, we were suddenly 'greeted' with some loud noises on the roof, and discovered we were in the midst of a hail storm! On looking out the windows, the entire yard seemed to be covered with a blanket of hail, and while one could not describe the hail stones as 'huge', they were of quite a size. And yes, my bus was out in thick of it. I'm hoping it has not sustained too much damage, but I've not ventured out to see as yet, as it is now pouring with rain.

Of course, the rain washed away all the hail stones quite rapidly, but we managed to grab a couple of shots before they disappeared.

I'm hoping the weather will clear overnight, as we have a concert band perfomance tomorrow, and I'd much rather play in the sunshine than the rain!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sometimes, you just can't win!

So, today's conversation went something like this:

Mum: OK - E, L, and A, time for science!

L: I can't find my science book.

Mum: Well, look for it!

15 minutes later....

Mum: OK, everyone look for L's science book. We ARE going to do your science today, we've missed out on too many days.

15 minutes later ....

Mum: Well, forget the book. We'll do the lesson, and then you can spend all afternoon looking for it if need be.

(Opens up to today's lesson and reads from text)

'This lesson requires a sunny day. If today is not a sunny day, put off your science lesson until a later date'.

This leads to everyone glancing out at our miserable, cloud-filled sky and bursting into laughter.

End of Science Lesson. Sometimes, it seems, everything is against us, no matter how we try {sigh}.


PS. The science book turned up a couple of hours later - so at least we're ready for next time!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The End of an Era

Feeling a little saddened today. Over the past few days, I've been researching and comparing pricing with the overseas 'super-stores'. The issues we've had is to factor in the high cost of shipping from the US to our store, plus then the shipping to our customers, and of course, we also need to add on the dreaded GST. All this means we're completely at a loss - to list the same products on our site, at a competitive rate, means we'd need to sell products at a loss of around 30%.

When we first began Adnil Press 11 years ago, we were easily able to price our overseas products at the same or less than one could order it direct from overseas. But times have changed. And homeschooling has changed, too. It's just as easy now for a homeschool Mum to order from overseas as it is to order from a local supplier.

So, it's sell-out time! We're keeping a few items, as we have a printing contract with IEW, we're able now to focus on those products, as well as our own. We are also organising to become affiliates of the larger stores, so as each title sells out, we shall put up a link to these other sites, from where you can find the products needed for your homeschool.

And, as I stated, some items are here to stay. All products from 'The Institute of Excellence in Writing' will STAY. This includes associated products such as All About Spelling and Teaching the Classics. Of course, we'll also continue to stock our own resources (including 'Australia, the Wide Brown Land for Me!'), our other Australian resources, and there will no doubt be a few smaller suppliers as well - such as Times Tales, Life of Fred, etc.

For the rest, as of this moment, everything else is on 'sell-out' status. This includes God's Design, Story of the World, Memoria Press and even Apologia Science. We are very saddened to have to take these steps, but unfortunately, we are simply unable to compete in the pricing wars, and we understand the need to purchase products at the best pricing possible. We hope you will support us by using the affiliate links that will be appearing on our site as our stocks run out.

We thankyou for your support, and hope that somehow, the reduction of our business and our stock will open doors elsewhere and in all, work towards the greater good.

God bless,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Holiday to NSW

Recently, we took some time out to attend a homeschool camp in NSW and to spend some time with friends. We spent nearly three weeks away from home. Our first stop was to visit with our good friends, Lynn and her family. Then, it was off to the camp for a week, and finally, we travelled back down the coast to spend the third week with some more special friends. We had an absolute blast! It’s so difficult to capture the highlights in one blog post, but, we shall try!

We arrived on the Thursday night at Lynn’s home, where we spent several nights. Lynn has 12 children, so it truly felt like we’d walked right into the movie set for ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’! During our stay, we rode horses, played with frogs, cats and dogs, and even took a visit to the local dolphin pool, where we were ‘kissed’ by the dolphins and the seals! During the evenings, we were privileged to join in with the family’s prayer time, and what a blessing it was, to see families joined together in prayer, with little ones, teenagers, and adults sharing time together. We also managed to fill up the church seats quite well on Sunday! After that, we all set about packing, ready to leave for camp on Monday morning.

The camp was so full of activities, it’s difficult to summarize! There was kite-flying on the beach, a visit to the rock pools, a sports day, concert, dancing, singing, and of course, daily prayers and daily Latin Mass. We caught up with many friends that we’d met last year, and met several new ones as well. Fr. Rizzo was a delight, and it was wonderful to see a priest who could connect so well with all the age groups, but especially the teens. The final night was bonfire night, and the teens headed off to the beach, while the younger children had their own bonfire at the camping ground. I spent the evening with the younger ones, and we had a merry time telling jokes, singing songs and chatting. But, all too soon, the camp was at an end, and once again, it was time to pack up, and move on.

So down the coast we went, and began our week-long stay with Erin & family. I can’t say that all went to plan – at midnight on the 1st night, the vomiting began, and over the week, most of our family and theirs came down with some sort of bug But fortunately, it only hit each person for 1-2 days, so we were still able to make the most of the holiday. Our days included a trip to the local soccer grand final, walks around the property, lots of chatting, a birthday party, LAN computer games, and many hours out on the dune buggy! Even Bill and I took a ride. The children are all such great friends, that it was very difficult to pack and leave, but again, time catches up with us in the end, and it was time to come home.

The return trip saw one blown tyre, but otherwise, we returned home safely. Mind you, I did learn an important lesson about saying ‘yes’ when the GPS asks if it’s OK to take the dirt roads – more like fire tracks! Here is one of the ‘roads’ it took us on in NSW – for over an hour, we travelled through the middle of a forrest, with no fences, houses, or other signs of life, along dirt tracks, through deep creek beds and slippery, sandy pathways. Some of the roads looked like they’d not been used in years – and yes, that is a tree growing up right in the middle of the road! At one point, it was quite like an obstacle course, with dear hubby darting to the left and then to the right to dodge whatever trees were in the way!

But, we got here in the end. We have arrived home exhausted but relaxed, enthused, and encouraged. It was a long trip, but worth it to know that when the opportunity presents itself next time, we have wonderful friends who we will be visiting once again. In the meantime, we’ll no doubt be making use of blogs and emails to keep in touch. And not surprisingly, the countdown to next year has already begun…