Surf it!


Couchsurfing is a world of fun!!

This, friends, is geography, social studies, LOTE and (ahem!) socialization all in one glorious, rich, natural learner package. And it’s free. No expensive curriculum required. But you do need a.. ah.. couch.

If hospitality is your thing, it’s easy to set up a profile at  There is space to describe skills you have to share and things you’d like to learn.  Someone in your house learning Spanish? Mention it in the skill share space, and you could find yourself with a native speaker to practice with. Have a passion for music? Mention it, and play with musicians from around the world.

After writing a profile, you can either sit back and wait for people to ask to stay with you, or you can browse people who have posted requests to stay in your area.

Here is Max. He spent a long, long time learning all about biology.  He came to stay with us for three days; three very fun days of sharing our culture with a first time visitor to Australia. Did you know Germans don’t eat banana and walnut sandwiches? Or how they feel about the world wars?  We know things now about Germany that you won’t read on Wiki.


Here we are at the Daisy Hill conservation centre: Max is meeting his first koala.





With Juls and Daniel, two German musicians with lots of personality!

juls and daniel



While there ARE baddies out there, there are also a lot of interesting, gifted, generous people in the world.  This is a wonderful way to meet them, and to share a little of the Australian way of life with an international visitor.


Go on.. be daring! 😀



couch surfing



School’s In! (or.. homeschool for highschool)


People who don’t homeschool have always assumed that I wouldn’t dare homeschool for highschool.  Surely not!?

I dare.

What’s more, for those of you not there yet, be assured it is a very natural extension of schooling the primary grades, and my excess of panic about covering everything was all for nought.

My conflict has always been how to do all the things we had to do, yet still have time for the things that first influenced me to choose homeschooling – abundant time for music, art, reading, and a long list of things I consider no childhood is complete without.

It is ridiculously easy to make up the amount of credits required to complete senior, if that is your goal.  So ridiculously easy, in fact, that if I gave the Chicklette the same workload she has had for the previous three years of highschool, she would have nothing to do next year.

Joy!  We have time in the next two years to do some of the  delicious, “not required by the education board” type things.

The year 11 schedule (unless I change my mind again!) includes…

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

(Read a chapter per sitting, take note of important points, attend weekly meeting with local businessman {her Da!} to discuss how world view and political persuasion effect our view of economic policy.)

With follow-up resources from Homeschool Economics if there is further interest in the subject.

Subscription to the following:

Australian Conservative

(Read, summarise, narrate!)

Salt Shakers newsletter – A little introduction to political activism.

 SAT question a day: This is just plain fun.  (Honest! You should try it.  There is even an iPhone app 😀 )

Maths – Algebra II, using ACE paces.

Science – Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Physics.  We haven’t used this curriculum before, but if it proves worthy, will follow it with the Chemistry book next year.  If it is not clear and well written, there is a wealth of teaching available at Khan Academy that we may use as a back up.

English – Participation in nanowrimo;  regular, on-demand, timed essays using SAT prompts (available prolifically online); our general reading schedule continued, peppered with some thought-provoking novels introduced for discussion.

Latin – Henle.  After Prima Latina, Latina Christian I, and Latina Christiana II, it’s on to Henle.  She didn’t look excited. It’s only a year.  She’ll live.

Logic – After Traditional Logic I with Martin Cothran, it surely makes sense to do Traditional Logic II, Advanced Formal Logic?  This elicited nothing but groans from the Chicklette.  Sigh.  No sense of adventure!  (Perhaps I will soften on that one.. have to wait and see… )

Music – Aim to finish AMEB grade six exams by the end of next year.

Art – Continuing our Art in the Park activities, with the difference that I will be requiring the Chicklette to complete the lesson before hand and facilitate the class on a regular basis, thus providing her with opportunity to  hone her public speaking skills, her time management skills, and her confidence leading a group.

Once a week she’s off to work in the office with her Da.  It’s been a practice for her to tag along for a couple of years now and make herself useful after she’s finished her school work.  Somehow, though, now that she looks old enough to go, it’s hard to watch her leave.  Childhood is fleeting!

And that’s it, folks.

Unless I change my mind.


Hope your year is off to a great start.  If you’re feeling that you haven’t quite recovered from last year and the holiday festivities, and if school looks overwhelming and undo-able, and the thought of another year of it makes you shudder…. read!  Start school a few days late and read a stirring read aloud to the children (one you like, or you’ll never see it through!), or read a bunch of inspiring homeschool articles on-line, or dust off those Above Rubies mags… 😀

Anything to remind yourself why you are sitting home chanting the times tables with your dear children while your peers are out sipping lattes and taking yoga classes.

You can do it! ♥

p.s. If none of that helps, and you still feel like hiding in bed with a bit of fluffy chick lit and a bag of baci kisses, then take heart: homeschooling can’t last forever. xx

Ahoy! It’s the HMB Endeavour


I swear, bloggy friends, it’s not just so I could have another post with pirate speak.  Truly!  The HMB Endeavour, a replica owned by the Maritime Museum, is in Brisbane.  If you live nearby RUN to see this before it moves on.  It’s that good.

If you don’t live anywhere near Brisbane, check the website to see if it will be at a port near you.  It’s recommended that you wear closed shoes – I had sandals on and survived, but there is some tricky climbing and the decent from the gangway is steep, so I grant that joggers or something more sturdy than sandals would have been better.  There are no prams or large bags allowed and children must be 90cm tall or over to be admitted.  If you take a camera bag or backpack, you may leave it in a locker and redeem it with a ticket (much the same as you would at the art gallery).

The staff are very friendly and offered to book us as a school group, which meant we could appoint a time to go through.  I recommend you go that route if you have small children, as the wait can be long if you go on a day when the schools are taking classes aboard.

The downloadable pdf self guided tour brochure is worth reading, even if you can’t make it to the ship.  Did you know the expression “Let the cat out of the bag” came from the cat of nine tails? It was kept in a baize bag and, obviously, removed when there was discipline to administer.  So too the expression “No room to swing a cat” came as below deck where the whip was kept was too cramped to apply it, and it had to be done above deck.  You can read these and other gems in the self guided tour brochure.

See how easily Blossy, who is 3, walks through to the Captain’s quarters?  Mr BB, all six-foot two inches of him,  folded up like a hanky to get through this space.  Most of the viewing of the lower deck requires stooping when moving between viewing areas.

The ship is set up to represent conditions during Cook’s voyage, and the rooms contain clothing, toiletries, books and weapons of the era.

If you are studying Australian history this year, this is a must see. If your children read historical fiction with a nautical flavour, this experience will lend flesh to the skeleton that is literary description.  Friends, it’s well worth a visit. 🙂

Jondaryan, and the State of the Nation, and other bits…


Hello dear Bloggy friends!

You’ll never guess what the Bluestocking household has been off doing, while the fate of the nation (politically speaking), hangs in the balance .  Of course, after my last post, I wouldn’t DARE ask you to guess, I’m just going to tell you straight up. 😀


We’ve been to Oakey.  It’s a freezing cold place on the Darling Downs, handy to the Jondaryan Woolshed.  Each year in (windy, freezing) August, the Woolshed hosts the Australian Heritage Festival.  Friends, it’s worth a visit!


There are sheepdog trials, machinery displays, cheese making, sheep shearing, heavy horse displays, blacksmithing, and all sorts of interesting things.  This is not a festival you can explore in just one day: at least, not if your family is passionate about history.  We spent several days there, and could have taken longer to truly explore, while still having adequate time for the younger members of our family to sit in the baby animal enclosure and cuddle lots of small, furry critters.


One of the most delightful aspects for us as a family, amidst a great many delightful experiences, was as a result of people watching 😀  We were in the baby animal enclosure, and observed a family playing nearby our own little ones.  Mr BB whispered to me, “Bet you, they are homeschoolers.”    Funny thing was, they were doing the same…. and came and asked us if we homeschool. 😛

After a good hour of conversation, we found that although they live hours from our city, and although we had never met them before, we are well acquainted with their extended family, and they have friends who work with Mr BB.  It was such a surprise!  Being lovely country folk, they invited us home for dinner.  Friends, I stood in awe.  The lady calmly whipped up dinner for 15.  Yes, between the two families, it made 15 for dinner.  Roast turkey and veggies, with home preserved peaches and custard for dessert. Being as I am the variety of hostess who has brain spasms if required to entertain with less than two weeks notice in writing, I think I could learn a thing or two about hospitality from that dear woman.

All of our children blended famously, and the entertainments included meeting the joey that lives in the house yard, the new Meremma pups, and viewing a glorious collection of eggs, and a the insect collection of an aspiring entomologist. Without a doubt, it was the high point in an already promising holiday. 🙂

My one blot in the week was going into a media black hole, with no internet, and no phone reception.  How could I know, when booking the time away, that I would be wandering off into the wilderness while history was being made with the closest election run in my lifetime?  Considering I had been glued to the ABC website for days, it positively hurt me to know it was going to be decided while I was away.  Of course, it wasn’t, and nothing had really changed when I arrived home (!) and I am grateful for all the time I didn’t waste watching for movements and results.

Lastly, with a turn toward the (ahem!) weightier matters of life, I’ve finally decided on a pair of Docs.  I was sorely tempted by the new florals, but the purist in me had to choose a pair of ten up, cherry reds. 😀  If you don’t think they’d frighten your children (or your mother, or your spouse 😛 ) consider them – truly, every woman should own a pair.  There is a reason they tout them as having “bouncing soles”.


And that’s it folks.  Hope your week’s been great!







Argh Har, Me Hearties! (or.. Henty v’s Strang)


Herbert Strang, that writer of rousing books for boys, is a phantom of the ilk of Carolyn Keene, and Franklin W. Dixon.

Just in case you didn’t grow to adolescence on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon were pseudonyms for a team of writers hired by the Stratemeyer  Syndicate.   I was very disillusioned, later in my reading career, to find two of my favourite childhood “standby” authors were not, actually, two authors.

So before I begin extolling the virtues of Herbert Strang, I will undeceive you as to that character’s true identity.  George Herbert Ely (1866–1958) and Charles James L’Estrange (1867–1947) were members of staff at Oxford University Press, and put their hand to the task of writing adventure stories for boys, under the nom de plume, Herbert Strang.

With that shocking revelation out of the way, I will share with you some of the newspaper reviews of the time:

“Boys who read Mr Strang’s works have not merely the advantage of pursuing enthralling and wholesome tales, but they are also absorbing sound and trustworthy information of the men and times about which they are reading.” _ Daily Telegraph.

“He has won for himself a reputation at least as high as that of Mr Henty by work far more earnest and sincere”. _ Speaker, Dec. 8, 1906

“Herbert Strang tells a story as well as Henty told it, and his style is much more finished”. _ Saturday Review, Dec 8, 1906

How does he compare to Henty?  Not being a boy, I am perhaps not the best judge.  However, there were no passages I felt compelled to glaze over, and I confess that Henty’s tendency to describe in detail the strategies of war are sometimes trying to me.  In fairness, none of the five stories I have read of Mr Strang’s were about war, so it hardly seems a fair remark, though true.

The main characters, in line with Henty’s, are stout hearted, honourable boys of courage and daring, and I have found nothing in the stories to make a conservative, homeschooling mama flinch.

While there is historical detail to pick up in any story written during a different time period to our own, I believe Henty wrote more to the purpose of education than what I have so far sampled of Strang.  Still, if you are after an out and out adventure story, with arresting language and no boring bits, Stang is worth hunting up.

Before you do a used book search, you may want to visit project Gutenberg and have a read online to see if the writing style is to your taste, but if you have a boy who is a confident reader, and has enjoyed Treasure Island, or Henty, or that style, then these books should be appreciated.

After reading several of Strang’s tales back to back, entertaining as they were,  I am so ready for a girl-themed book. It might be time to dig out a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and leave the buccaneers, freebooters, shipwrecks and cannibals for another day..

St. George for England


St. George for England is now complete and available as a free audio download from Librivox. (Hooray for Librivox volunteers!).

This is one you won’t want to miss if you’re currently studying the reign of Edward III; the Black Prince;  the battles of Cressy and Poitiers; the destruction of the Spanish fleet; the Black Death; and the Jacquerie rising.

As an interesting aside, we met in this book characters first introduced to us in “A Chaplet of Pearls”, by Charlotte Yonge, about the slaughter of St Bartholomew’s Eve (France, 1572).

If you are desiring to be immersed in the era, you can’t go past Ronald Welch’s “Bowman of Crecy”.  He doesn’t cover the battle of Poitiers, but you’ll never forget his account of Crecy!

Happy listening, folks!

By Pike and Dyke, Free Audio


Hey, Henty fans!

Librivox volunteer David Leeson,  has just finished an unabridged recording By Pike and Dyke.  To download this free audio book, visit:

Summary by D. Leeson

It is the 1570’s, and the people of the Netherlands live in terror under the cruel dominion of Spain. Though many long to be free of Spanish tyranny, efforts at rebellion are failing, and allies are nowhere to be found. Edward “Ned” Martin, son of an English captain and a Dutch lady, is thrust into the conflict when he resolves to help his mother’s people and avenge his murdered relatives. Entering the service of the revolutionary leader William the Silent, Prince of Orange, Ned is called upon to carry out dangerous secret missions deep within occupied territory. Through hairbreadth escapes, fierce sea fights, terrifying sieges, and daring rescues, Ned becomes a witness to the inspiring and heartbreaking events of the rise of the Dutch republic.


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