Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Phonetic Zoo - Review

Here's a fantastic review of one of our more popular programmes:  IEW's 'The Phonetic Zoo':

No-Nonsense Spelling Curriculum -The Phonetic Zoo (Review) 



For ordering details, see our site, at:  Adnil Press - The Phonetic Zoo.




Have a great day!




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Eighteen Years Old!

Our only son, Daniel, turned eighteen today!

It was a quiet affair - just a simple cake, and a ton of junk food, then off to choir - but he's looking forward to the party we are organising for him in one month's time. 

It has been an absolute delight to see this young man grow and develop over the past few years, and we are certainly never short of entertainment whenever he is around!

He is currently deciding what he will do next year, after he finishes year 12, but whatever it is, and wherever he goes, we will most definitely miss him. One thing is for sure - he has the confidence and the ability to do whatever he choses with his life.

Daniel, we are very proud of you - Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thinking About Moving

Hi all. We are considering up and moving our family. For 20 years, we have lived in (well 15kms out of) a small town. There are no other homeschooling families in our town, and no other large families. It's been tough, and we've been very isolated, but we stayed because I had (have) a responsibility to my ageing parents, and we have been blessed with a large farm house and very cheap rent.

However, both my parents are now in the Old Folks' Home, and so we are now considering moving. As well, the children are now older, and opportunities are scarce - there is no doubt that all the children will eventually have to move far from home for any sort of employment opportunities, or to study. As it is, we now have to do a 350km trip (each way) once per fortnight, just so my daughter can have a clarinet lesson - I am completely fed up with the isolation and all the travelling, just for a basic thing such as a music teacher.

But where to go? That is the question!

Here's what we are looking for:

Somewhere with a small-to-medium population - around 20,000 would be ideal.

It'd be nice to have some other Catholic families around - ideally, a thriving Catholic Community would be ideal.

and it'd be nice to have some other homescholers around!

We'd also need a great post office and an office supplies store for our Adnil Press business - and somewhere that services photocopiers.

We're not into sport, however, we are into art and music. Music teachers, opportunities for concert band and / or ensembles, and a choir would be wonderful.

Opportunities for art would be also wonderful - perhaps somewhere with a local art gallery, and a few art and craft groups around the place.

One sport we do like, however, we do like ten-pin bowling - so a bowling alley would be good.

Some sort of higher-education opportunities. Not necessarily Uni, but TAFE or equivalent.  Music again comes into consideration here, as my 16 year old wants to follow music as a career, so she'll be needing opportunities to study and follow her passion.

It'd be great to have a larger town or city within driving distance - up to 300kms, so we can travel for any specialists or other services if need be.

And most definitely, I want to go somewhere with trees and greenery! Rural SA is so brown and dry most of the year.

We'd most likely be looking at a rental property - preferrably a farm house within 10-20kms of town. It'd need to be about 4 bedrooms, as we still have 6 at home, plus the business. I'd like to think we could purchase a property, but with dear hubby unemployed, that will not be likely.

Now, after reading through that, if anyone knows of such a place, please feel free to make suggestions! It's all wide open at this stage - maybe northern NSW? Maybe closer to Adelaide? Maybe near Perth?

It'll be interesting to see where we end up!

Prayers for the Lord guide us in this decision would be appreciated. Thankyou!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

And the Winner Is.......

Thankyou to all who entered into our 'Free E-book Competition'!

All of  the names were entered into the List Randomizer at Random.Org - and the winner is:


Congratulations, Fiona!   Please email me (adnilpress@ozemail.com.au) within 48 hours, and I shall send you details on how to claim your $30 worth of e-books!

We'll be having more competition and giveaways in the coming months, so stay tuned!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our own Young Rural Ambassador!

Just how many highlights can there be to one day?  As a family, we have certainly had a fabulous time in the past few hours!  Today we attended the Crystal Brook Agricultural Show.  Our Concert Band was booked to perform for the most of the day, so first thing in the morning, we packed up our instruments and music, and headed out the door.  Arriving at the show (on time, I might add!) we set up our chairs and stands, and proceeded to play.  As always, ‘Moondance’ and ‘Aladdin’ proved to be most popular, as well as ‘Comedy Classics’.  

Of course, there were several breaks during the day, during which we were able to wander around and view the stalls and the exhibitions.  My 16-year-old and myself had several entries in the art & craft section, so once judging was complete, we headed for the pavilions.  Helena’s artwork was most impressive, and I was the proud mother, who received several comments from random people, congratulating me on how talented she is.  Here’s her 1st prize entry of a portrait of David Tennant as Dr. Who:

All in all, out of twelve entries, she received:  4 firsts, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds!

As for myself, I had entered several paintings and drawings in the art section, and  several scrapbooking pages and cards in the craft section.

My results:   

Art Section:  4 firsts, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds.

Craft Section:  2 firsts, 1 second, and 3 thirds.

Of all my entries, my personal favourites were a rural scene, which I completed in pen and watercolour, my coloured pencil gate, and a scrapbooking page featuring our ten-year old, Aimee.




After lunch, it was back to performing more classics such as ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and ‘The Man from Snowy River’, then once again, we had time to wander around the fair.  Something I had been looking for was a new hat, and Helena, too, had been searching for a hat that would suit the ‘jazz musician’ in her.  And, we found both!  So for our final set we donned our new purchases, and played the rest of the set out in style.  

The afternoon break also saw the ‘Intermediate Rural Ambassador ‘ competition.  The band members suggested to our Daniel that he should enter.  It was a bit of tongue-in-cheek, as they did not expect him to actually do it, but once he discovered that the organisers did not, as yet, have any entries, and money would be awarded for prizes, he was in!  He then dragged Helena into the competition as well, and before long, other people joined in as well.  All the entrants filled in a form that stated their names, age, location, school, and their hobbies.  As each name was called, they then proceeded up onto the stage, where they answered a few questions in front of the judges and the crowd.

Then it was time to wait and allow the judges to make their decision.  The runner-up was announced first – Daniel Maher!   Of course, we all cheered, as did ALL of the concert band – a band member had taken out second place, and everyone was most impressed!

After another few minutes, the announcer declared the winner of the competition to be:  Helena Maher!  You can just imagine how the band cheered, and how proud her parents were at that moment – with two of our children taking out first and second place!   Helena then received her ribbon, and they both received their prizes - $40 for first, and $20 for second.  Of course, I did suggest to Helena that she could, therefore, pay for her own hat, but sadly, she did not agree…


And then it was time for our final set.  By now, it was very cold and windy, and threatening to rain, but somehow, we didn’t seem to notice – it had been a very good day!  But the surprises were not yet over.   Once we had finished and packed up, we headed once again for the pavilion to pick up our art and craft entries.  We then discovered that Helena had won the trophy for her art section, and was presented with a limited edition, ‘Year of the Farmer’ gold-plated coin.  By this time, Helena’s name was becoming very well known, and she even came across people talking about her as she wandered around the show, speaking about how lovely she and Daniel were (just one more ‘proud parent’ moment).  And people were also stopping me as I walked, and congratulating me on my talented children. 

As we headed for the bus, I decided to take one quick look at all the animals that had been entered into the show – cute puppies, cats, rabbits and the like.  Now, you’ll understand how funny this is when I say that yesterday, I had decided that we would not buy another dog until at least Christmas – and probably not until we had made a firm decision as to when, and if, we were moving house, or staying where we are.  But, there were puppies!  Yep, I was gone, and of course, the children heartily agreed with my choice!  I had always wanted a border collie, and we found a border collie cross – hey, close enough!  So, we parted with the $80, and brought home our newest family member – Crystal (so named because we bought at the Crystal Brook Show).  Needless to say, our family members who had stayed home for the day were most delighted when we arrived home!  

Isn't she just adorable?  (And the puppy is cute, too!)

So just how many highlights can there be in one day?  Quite a few, it seems - And now we even have a Young Rural Abassador living under our roof! 


Friday, August 10, 2012

August 11 – and the Reality of the Road

It’s quite a joke in our house when ‘Mum’ cringes in the back seat of the car whenever a learner driver or young P-plater takes the wheel.  I’m afraid my nerves do not cope very well with the whole ‘young driver’ situation, and while this can seem funny to those who witness my reactions, I do have my reasons.

When I was sixteen years old, I met a young man by the name of Tim. We’d first met at school, and found ourselves staring over the desks at each other.  His dark hair, piercing blue eyes and infectious laugh took my breath away.  It wasn’t long before we began dating, and soon we were very much in love.  As a hopeless romantic, he often showered me with flowers, soft toys, and jewellery, and we were often seen ‘out on the town’ for dinner dates and spending time with our friends.  For nearly two years, we loved, laughed, and had an absolute ball.

Unfortunately, being so young and in love does have its drawbacks, and as time went by, we began to question whether or not we would eventually marry.  But question would never fully be answered.  I had moved to Adelaide for University, while Tim remained in Port Augusta, working for the railways.  One Sunday, I travelled home on the late bus, and we had arranged to meet up the following evening – on the Monday, after he had finished work.  It was time to make a decision in regards to our future. Whatever the decision, we knew we loved each other deeply, and would forever more remain good friends at the very least.

At 8:03am, on the morning of August 11, I suddenly awoke from a deep sleep.  For those who do not believe in ‘spiritual connections’ with another person, I can tell you, they do exist.  I knew something was wrong – the best way I can possibly explain it is to quote Star Wars – ‘like I felt a great disturbance in the force’.  No, I don’t believe in ‘the force’, but that was what it was like.  I simply knew that something horrible had happened. Instantly, I arose and tried to call Tim.  His mother told me he’d left for work, so I waited a few minutes, then phoned the railway station.  He had not yet arrived, but they would have him call me when he got in.  However, that call would never happen.

Two hours later, his mother rang to let me know the heartbreaking news.  As Tim rode to work on his motorbike, a utility had pulled out in front of him.  Without more than a second’s warning, they collided, and Tim was sent catapulting out of his seat and through the air.  He was dead the moment he hit the road. 

On that day, my life would change forever, and I would witness the devastation a family goes through when a young driver is killed in a horrible, senseless accident.  I remember his mother, clutching her grandson on the seat in the backyard, rocking back and forth, as she cried, ‘We only had him for such a little while, such a little while’.  

Does one ever get over the loss?  Nope.  And each year as the anniversary rolls around, we remember.  We learn to live with it of course, but there is a hole left in our hearts forever.  Never again do I wish to experience the death of a young person on the road, or to look into a grieving mother’s eyes as she tries to comprehend her loss.  And never again do I wish to experience the terrible pain of losing a loved one in such a horrific way. 

So to my teens and other young drivers, if you see me cringe or wince when you are behind the wheel, please bear with me.  Such an experience can never be forgotten, and the sense of loss always remains.  Please remember, it’s not you I don’t trust, it’s the unpredictable road. 

Drive safely,


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings

There are times when you purchase curriculum that does its job, and you’re happy with it.  There are other times that the ‘fantastic, new, curriculum’ is an absolute flop, and ends up sitting on the shelf or re-sold.  And then, there are times when you purchase something that is an absolute hit – just perfect for your children, for you, and your homeschool.

Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings, for us, is one such curriculum.  I purchased it several years ago, and I was always a little nervous about it; the student and teacher volumes are huge, as is, of course, the Lord of the Rings itself.  And yet, it remained on my ‘to do’ list – one day – in the future. 

Earlier this year, I was busy planning our curriculum, and I needed to choose something for either literature or essay writing.  We’d completed several of the IEW courses, and I knew my teens were quite proficient with essays, so I decided to go with literature.  But what to use?  As always, there was a stack of choices, and then I spied LOTR, sitting on the shelf, waiting.  Maybe, I thought, now was the time to use it.  And I’m glad I did!

So much more than a fill-in-the-blanks curriculum, LiteraryLessons from Lord of the Rings offers comprehensive chapter summaries, vocabulary words, challenge questions, essay suggestions, and at the end of each book, unit studies.  The unit studies cover things such as the author’s life, other great works of literature, map work, and more.  Currently, we are working through Unit Study Five, which covers the timeless works of Homer and Vergil – The Odyssey, the Iliad, and the Aeneid.  Having studied Homer’s works a couple of years ago, it is refreshing to do a re-cap of these marvellous, epic tales.  The essay assignments are also wonderful (at least from my point of view!), and there are many ‘optional writing assignments’, some of which we tackle, and others that we freely leave out and move on. 

All the elements of literature are covered as well.  One lesson may concentrate on theme, the next on conflict, another on character or setting, and so forth.  In this way, literary terms are learned, and with the writing assignments, they are also put into practice.  Recently, we were asked to write a paragraph, vividly describing our favourite location, which could have been imaginary or real.  The programme also encourages the use of strong verbs and quality adjectives, meaning it dovetails with the IEW programme perfectly!  So I can rest assured that my young writers are also receiving some fantastic instruction that has helped them in their own writing endeavours.

Even my ten-year-old loves it.  Although she is not reading the novels or completing the essays, she enjoys sitting down with us as we discuss each chapter and work through the exercises.  She is in charge of the answer book, and as we shout out our answers, young Aimee excitedly informs us whether or not our answers are correct! 

Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings is certainly a keeper.  The chapter summaries help with putting the story together and keeping everything fresh in one’s mind, and the vocabulary word studies give a greater understanding of the author and the text.  Sometimes, comprehension questions and literature studies can dull the story, but that is not so in this case.  This curriculum helps to bring to life the timeless story of Frodo and his companions, and the studies of other great classics, the challenging essays, and the literacy lessons make this a complete high-school Literature course.  This is one resource that undoubtedly receives the ‘thumbs up’, and I look forward to using it again in the future.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Our Centenary

This past Sunday saw a huge celebration in our town;  the Centenary of our local Catholic Church.


The bishop attended, along with our current priest, a previous priest from our parish, and of course, our own Sister Moreen.  The church was packed, not just with Catholics, but with people all denominations and creeds.  Many people took part, including our own Daniel, who was called upon to read the prayers of the faithful. 

After Mass,  we headed out to the cemetery, where the Bishop blessed the graves of the faithful departed.  While there, I managed to find the grave of my late Step-Grandfather, who is the one, sole Catholic in my ancestry line as far as I am aware. It took a while to find the grave, as it was sort-of facing the opposite way to most of the tomb stones, but, find it we did.  The Bishop handed me the holy water, and together, we blessed his grave.  I then proceed to tell him the story of 'Robbie', who I never met, but had only heard the story of how one day he was drunk and swore at the visiting priest.  'Well, that'd be why we made him face the opposite way to everyone else, as his punishment', commented the bishop, and with a big grin, turned to move onto the next grave.

Later, it was time to head to the bowling club for lunch.  Now, it is a long-held tradition in the Maher family that the children, no matter how unruly at home, know how to present themselves in public, be well dressed, and behave in an orderly way.  I think we're definitely breaking with tradition there.  :)

There I was, giving a well-prepared talk to my three youngest girls on the importance of waiting before taking second helpings or taking too much one one's plate, when two of my darling teens arrived back at the table - plates ready and loaded with  - yep, seconds! 


Next, I turn to see my twelve-year-old looking like this:

And, it just got worse! 

Adorable, arent' they?   Yep, it's official - we are who we are, take us or leave us....   I've done my best! 

Still the bishop didn't seem to mind - in fact, both our local priest and the bishop eventually joined our little gathering for a laugh and a chat.

Still, sometimes we question why the people of our town think we're a little 'strange' - just can't figure it out.....


Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012 Art Encouragement Award

Back in April, I mentioned in one of my posts that I had won the 'Art Encouragement Award' at our local Laura Folk Fair. 

However, it was a busy time, and I never got around to putting up any further information, or a picture of my 'prize-winning' composition.

It was a great honor to receive the award, especially given that only one award is given each year, and we have some fantastic artisits living in our area.  I had no expectations of winning, so it took me completely by surprise.

The award read: 

And here is my composition.  I used pastels on black card, and entitled the painting 'Velvet Roses'.

Velvet Roses

I am very grateful to have been chosen for this award, and it has most certainly encouraged me to continue with my art work - time of course, is always an issue - but it is certainly something I enjoy.


TTC22 - Touch Twin Markers Challenge

Over the past couple of days, I've managed to take some time out for some art & craft.  Here's my latest card, which I am entering into the 'TTC22 - Touch Twin Markers' latest challenge:

For this card, I used Pastel Blue, Pale Green, and Cosmos to colour the butterflies, and based the card on one of the examples as shown on the Touch Twin Markers site.

We have a few agricultural shows coming up in our area, which include several art and craft categories, so no doubt the card, paper, pencils, markers, and whatever else will be well used over the next few weeks!