Happy Fourths-giving

Independence Day. Usually full of barbecues, fireworks, and other summery things. When you're a Yank down under, however, it's a little bit chilly for things like that.

And then there's Thanksgiving. Turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, lots of hot comfort food. But it's regularly on the verge of stinking hot near the end of November, so it's the last thing on our minds.

So a few years ago, I decided to swap them. I'll still buy a turkey in November or December when they're in supermarkets, but said turkey will stay in my freezer till July. When it's winter, and cold, and we naturally want hot comfort food.

So happy Fourths-giving. May we all remember to be thankful for what we have - especially the sacrifice that many made to bring forth a new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Categories: We hold these truths
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Six months worth of life updates

So I decided it was finally time to post again and let people know what's going on in our lives. And I looked at the last post and it was...January. Holy moly. There's SIX MONTHS of updates to write about.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

House stuff

Not long after my last post, our old house was demolished. Just an empty block. I drove past there the other day, and it looks like both halves have now been sold (the for sale sign was gone), and there's work happening on one of the new blocks.

The new evaporative air conditioning system we had put in works GREAT. We did have to get the touch screen controller replaced, but that was covered under warranty. We're pretty sure the controller had been dodgy from the start, because it never really worked all that well, and then after the power went out one day, about a third of it was just dead. Fortunately it was at the end of the season when we'd need cooling, so it's not like we were really struggling.

Middle of May, we had our shed delivered in pieces. The company who make them don't install them anymore, so I had to hunt around for someone who was available to put it together for us. That took a while because everyone's busy, and it's winter so it's cold and wet. But finally we got an installation date, and they came and did it, and yay we have a shed!

[caption width="2560"]Shed![/caption]

We had power installed last week, but we're still waiting on the concrete slab to get poured so we can start using it properly. That happens tomorrow.

When the shed is finished, we'll put our chest freezer out there, and get some nice sturdy shelving, and move a bunch of stuff from Chuckie's room onto the shelves. We'll also be able to get a 4x4 set of cube shelves where the chest freezer is now (in the dining room), and use half of it for school stuff, and the other half for board games. (Most of our board games are still in boxes in Chuckie's room). There's a few other boxes of stuff in other rooms that we'll move to the shed as well.

We had a split system air conditioner put in the kitchen/dining area, because it's the biggest room, so really too big for one of those fin heaters to work well (like we've got in every other room in the house). It's pretty awesome.

Life in general

I don't think I mentioned this on the blog at all, but as of the 4th of January, our ridiculous state government decided that all passenger transport workers had to be jabbed to keep their jobs. Darrin was not, and is not, and will not be, so he wasn't able to work, even though the boss didn't care if he was jabbed, and probably most of his passengers wouldn't have cared either. So this persisted until this direction was repealed on April 1. He's been back at work since then.

So my message to you, if you're facing a similar situation: STAND YOUR GROUND. You don't have to succumb if you don't want to. They WILL eventually remove that requirement, because every industry who's mandated it has had it repealed because they don't have enough workers! Don't have savings to get you by? Do whatever you can for income in the meantime - babysit, Uber Eats/DoorDash, deliver pizzas, walk dogs, whatever can get you by. And then, when you get your job back, save up an emergency fund, because something WILL happen again where you need a big chunk of money all of a sudden. Life happens and it's best to be prepared.

And that kind of leads into my next topic, where in the second week of the April school holidays, we all came down with The Virus Which Must Not Be Named. And yeah, yeah, fine, it's the weakest variant that's been out there since the beginning, blah blah blah, but what a wussy virus. We were tired for a couple of days then we were fine.

[caption width="2560"]Two sick boys having a rare afternoon nap[/caption]

And honestly? I'd rather have that again, even every year, than have gastro EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE.

I had my birthday in January, and Darrin took the kids out for the afternoon so I could be home ALONE. Then the next week Darrin had his 50th birthday, and we stayed home to have chicken & chips. Caleb turned 15 in March. I can't remember what we did for his birthday. Maybe we ordered pizza.

We're still homeschooling, and in fact just had an extension on our government approval, so we're good till the end of June next year.

I had to dig my passport out for something in the middle of May, and I saw the expiration date. YIKES! It was a month away. So in the next 24 hours, I collected all the documentation I needed and sent off a renewal application. I got my new passport a few days after my old one would have expired.

Elijah (3) has moved from our bedroom into a room with his big brother Micah (5). They have the biggest bedroom.

The younger 3 kids and I have started going to a Bible study, which is actually held at our church. We're actually on a break now and starting a new subject in August.


We have chickens! It was a bit sooner than I was planning to get them, but we brought home 5 pullets (female chickens under 1 year old) at the end of February. We were meant to get 6, but the lady I got them from (who had to travel up from Mt. Gambier, several hours' drive away) said her partner forgot to load one up. So they brought the last one up about 6 weeks later.

And then...one started laying. The Barnevelder. The smallest one. Which was a surprise, but a welcome one.

[caption width="1920"]The first egg we got from our flock, which I put in my pocket and forgot about until I squished it against something.[/caption]

And then...our black Orpington started to look bigger than the rest. And she was definitely in charge. And her tail feathers looked like...not a pullet.

And then he started crowing. At 5:30 in the morning. In the suburbs.

So I put a call out on one of the local poultry groups on Facebook, and a lady from out in the country came to pick him up. I saw her again last week and she says he's doing well. Yay.

So we had 5 chickens again for a few weeks. And then yesterday, I got a message from the lady I got them from saying they were coming up TODAY for a poultry sale, and she could bring up my replacement black Orpington. So I asked her for a couple more along with her, and now we have 8 chickens.

In addition to the Barnevelder, two of my Orpingtons are laying periodically. We're generally getting 2 eggs a day at the moment, sometimes 3.


I've got veggie beds! And 7 fruit trees! And blueberry bushes! And a little greenhouse! And...BLACKCAP SEEDS! I'm really excited about that last one. I grew up picking them and eating them when I was a kid, and I've never seen seeds for them here. Then one night, I was Googling stuff on my phone in bed, and I found them. So I ordered some, and got them last week. Just need to work out where I can plant them.

So at the moment, I've got one bed strawberries, one bed peas, one bed broccoli & cauliflower, and the fourth bed is carrots, onions, garlic, lettuce, and parsley.

I've harvested 3 heads of broccoli and 1 head of cauliflower. The lettuce is big enough that I can grab a few leaves when I need them and leave the rest. Same with the parsley. I'm not sure how the carrots will do. I've never really had success with them before.

That's about all I can think of for now.

20 years ago today

Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I woke up at 8 am from the best sleep I'd had since switching from the night shift a few days before, to a beautiful blue sky. I had a good feeling about the day.

I got on my computer and checked my email and the Bannerbored, a message board for fans of Steve Taylor who also used our IRC channel called #bannerman. I saw a post from my friend Alex in Canada saying to pray for New York, because a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Yeah, right, I thought. I thought it was one of those internet hoaxes that were so common in those days. I mean, how many times have we seen that kind of thing in movies? Total hoax. And I couldn't believe my intelligent friend had fallen for it.

But everywhere I looked online, I saw the same thing. And I don't remember exactly what happened after that, but at some point I realised that maybe this wasn't a joke and turned on the TV. And I think I saw the second plane hit, or I tuned in just after, and the good feeling I had about the day was replaced with impending dread.

This was when I knew it wasn't an accident. It was deliberate. And the country wouldn't lie down and take it.

We were united. We weren't Republicans or Democrats. We were Americans.

I've been gone now for almost 18 years, and from what I see from over here, the country is more divided than ever. I've certainly never seen it this divided in my lifetime. The 60s we're pretty turbulent I know, but I wouldn't know if that was worse. It's hard not to worry whether I'll even have a country to go back to when I finally get the chance. I just have to keep reminding myself that God is in control, and ask him to remind me when I forget.

Rip off the band aid.

You know when you have a band aid on your arm, or leg, or wherever, and it's time to peel it off? Which way do you prefer - to peel it off slowly and carefully so it hurts a little for longer, or just rip it off so it's one short sharp pain and then it's over?

I rip it off. Almost every time.

And that's what I think we should do with this COVID stuff. Australia has been trying to stop the spread and eliminate it. But that's impossible to do. It's unrealistic to think that we can stop a virus that's (supposedly) very contagious when we can't even stop the common cold.

But people are afraid. I get it. Because all we hear in the news are the horror stories of people dying on ventilators. We almost never hear about the people who test positive and get through the virus on their own at home, with little or no medical intervention. The ones who say it felt like a cold or a flu, and not like they were going to die suffocating.

This is a virus with a 99.7% survival rate. Yes, SURVIVAL. The vast majority of the people who have died from this virus have been over 70 years old and/or had a compromised immune system already. And that's not to say they're not important, or that it's not sad when they die, but logically, of course a virus is more likely to kill people in these circumstances than normal, healthy people. That's just a fact.

And yes, we should do what we can to protect these people - within reason. Washing our hands, keeping our distance if we're unwell, making sure they have the supplies they need to get by without having to go to the shops, sure. Locking down 90% of society just so that the minority are protected? No.

If you're concerned about catching the virus, by all means, stay home and look after your health. Ask for help from friends, family, and community groups if you need it. But don't insist that the rest of the world should put their lives on hold just for you. That's selfish.

Rip off the band aid. Let's get on with life.

Knee jerk overreactions

So as of today, there's 5 new cases in South Australia. OH NO!

A mining family who's come back from Dad working in the mines, and they've all got it. One family. So they're using that as an excuse to bring in even more restrictions on everyone and telling everyone to wear masks and get vaccinated and social distance and work from home and spreading the fear.

I'm not buying into it. I'm so sick of all this crap. And it's all about a virus that has a 99.7% survival rate. Let that sink in, because our politicians aren't giving us the whole story. They never do. They want us to blindly obey what they say and not do our own research and make our own decisions based on that research. They want us to be sheep.

I refuse to be a sheep. Won't you join me?

Proof that Facebook is censoring vaccine hesitancy

Today, Project Veritas released a new video showing proof that Facebook is censoring comments expressing 'vaccine hesitancy.' Two whistleblowers have come forward and leaked documents exposing the algorithm that scores comments on a 'vaccine hesitancy' scale. Watch it yourself below.

Blogging again.

So I'm blogging again. Or I will be. I guess technically I am right now.

But yeah, here we go. Because I don't trust Facebook to keep the rules the same from day to day. Because almost all my friends are still on Facebook and Instagram. Because even if a lot of my friends do switch to something like Gab or MeWe, I still don't have control over those websites. So I can write whatever I want here and I'll never get cancelled or put in Facebook jail or anything stupid like that. The only person I have to worry about offending is my sysadmin, and I'm married to him, so he can just deal with it. ;-)

How I'm weaning myself from Big Tech

Big Tech is getting to be a problem for many people. No doubt you've heard rumblings of censorship in the last few months. Big tech companies are getting into every part of our lives, and many of us want to get away from that.

But how, when they're so pervasive? Facebook and Google track you everywhere you go. When you come across a recommended product online, it's usually an Amazon link. Microsoft struck deals years ago with PC and laptop manufacturers which requires Windows to be installed on new computers. If you dare to remove it to use another operating system, you void the warranty.

The five biggest tech companies in the world right now are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Let's go through each of them one at a time.

Big Tech and the alternatives I'm using

AppleApple logo

I haven't used an Apple device in years. I got an iPhone when I was pregnant and stressed 9 years ago (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!) and regretted it within 6 months. About two years later, I switched to an Android device. I gave away the iPhone to someone who was looking for one and have never looked back.

Apple severely limits what you're able to do with your own device that YOU purchased and own. You can jailbreak it and gain a little more control, but not much.


Apart from an Android keyboard on my phone (which I'm trying to find a replacement for), I also haven't used Microsoft in years. We haven't had Windows installed on even a laptop since 2016. The only thing I ever used Windows for was to file my taxes, and in 2016, the ATO released their online tax filing. Which meant I never had to use Windows again to file my taxes. Yay!

Microsoft logo

So what do I use on my home computer if not Apple or Microsoft products? Open source software. Until 2016, it was FreeBSD (a version of Unix). Since 2016, it's been Linux. Free alternatives for everything you can imagine exist on Linux. In fact, I can't think of a single instance that I can't find a suitable replacement for an Apple or Microsoft product.

My husband and kids still use one Microsoft-owned product, but I don't think they'll be getting off Minecraft anytime soon. ;-)

AmazonAmazon Kindle

Ooh, this one hurts. I loved having Prime, especially living in Australia where shipping costs an arm and a leg. But I can't support a company anymore that actively discourages free speech. So today, I closed my Amazon account for good. I'm still sorting out where I'm going to buy books and things from. I'd prefer to buy from within Australia to support our own economy and to save on shipping costs. If you have a good recommendation, let me know in the comments!

And before you say Book Depository because they have free shipping worldwide, guess what...Amazon owns them too. :-(


This one's going to be hard. But we've been slowly working toward getting off Google for years.

My husband has always been about free, open software, so he's been looking for (and using) big tech alternatives since before we met. We've always had our own email servers, and apart from using a hosting service for my business websites for a few years, we've managed our own web server as well. For a while this was at home, but the downfall of that is if the power goes out (which it often can over summer), we can't access our own email or websites. So a few years ago, he found what's called a VPS (Virtual private server) provider called Vultr to host our services on.

All of our websites (including the one you're reading this on!) are hosted on our Vultr servers.

He set up our own Nextcloud server a few years ago. Nextcloud is an open source alternative to many services - calendar, file storage, chat, email, bookmarks, and more. It offers so many options I can't even list them all! Nextcloud is completely free, and you manage it yourself so you know exactly who's looking at your data.

Nextcloud even offers an app for your phone, so you can automatically upload photos you take and save them to your own personal cloud! You can install a gallery plugin to share photos with others as well.

More Google alternatives

As far as using Google sites themselves, for a start, I've switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo everywhere that I can. Yes, even Chrome will let you do this. You can also install the DuckDuckGo browser on your phone, which also blocks big tech third party trackers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon by default.

But of course, there are some Google sites that we can't replicate at home. YouTube, for one. It's full of all kinds of content, useful for personal growth, education, entertainment, and news. A couple of people I follow have cloned their channels on a site called LBRY so I'm keeping an eye on that one now.

And I have an Android phone. Which is Google. I can't get away from Google entirely, but I can choose what device I use, based on whether or not it can be rooted (this means being able to gain control of the full device and install your own operating system on it). My current phone can be, and at some point in the near future (once I get the nerve to actually do it!) I'll back everything up and install Lineage OS. Lineage OS allows you to choose how much Google you want on your Android phone. Yes, that means you can actually uninstall Google apps and not just disable them!


Of all the big tech companies out there, this one might be the hardest to get rid of. Almost everyone I know is on Facebook. I'm in dozens of groups for homeschoolers, co-ops, budgeting, friends, and the list goes on. Almost my entire family is on Facebook. It's just one of those things people have come to expect.

But isn't it creepy when you mention something to a friend, and a few minutes later an ad shows up on Facebook for exactly what you were talking about? They're always listening.

Alternatives to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

But there are alternatives popping up. Parler is a popular one similar to Twitter. They made the news recently due to a mass-exodus from Twitter. Then, the Parler app was removed from Apple and Google stores, and Amazon revoked their hosting account. They're back online as of yesterday, but the platform will take a while to rebuild.

Gab is an option similar to Facebook. Gab was banned from app stores several years ago, when they refused to enact censorship on their platform. So they built their own servers and run everything themselves. Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, calls it a free speech platform. That means that all speech which is protected by the US constitution is also allowed on Gab. They are funded 100% by user donations.

But my favourite Facebook alternative so far is MeWe. It's free with a paid option, they don't advertise to you, and they don't ban you for daring to question what you see and hear in mainstream media.

MeWe offers groups, pages (for a monthly fee), chat, and events. There isn't a separate app for chat, so it's only one app to install on your phone.

It IS possible to wean yourself off big tech.

It'll take a while, and you have to be persistent, but you can do it. Slowly but surely.
Categories: How to... We hold these truths
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"What did I say about singing?" "Can I whistle?" "No." "Well can I hum?" "All right."

Name that quote. ;-)

So here we are in our hotel room in Cooma, south of Canberra. The weather was wet and cold but it didn't put us off. My estimate: a few thousand adults & older kids and probably an equal amount of babies & younger children. Not an insignificant amount. People organised buses from Melbourne and other areas.

So the population of Australia is about what, 22 million now? And half of those are women and girls, so 11 million there. And 'only' one percent of women birth at home, right? That's 110,000 women and girls in Australia right now who will want to birth at home in their lifetime. That number is nothing to sneeze at.

And the legislation, if/when it goes through, will NOT stop me birthing at home next time. Yeah there's a few publicly funded home birth programs, but I wouldn't qualify for them now because one of my babies died. Never mind that Ian was damaged long before his birth, and in the unlikely event I had another baby with the same issues, there's nothing the almighty 'they' could do about it anyway. One of the doctors who looked after him said even if I'd had an ultrasound, they wouldn't have picked it up. So for me, there's no point in going to hospital.

But anyway, I've gotten off topic. We have no TV in our hotel room tonight so I don't know if I'll see anything about it yet. But there were lots of cameras so hopefully someone will take it all seriously enough.

We're not gonna take this lying down.

I know you're all probably wondering when we'll blog about our experience with Ian and what exactly happened, and we'll get to that, but for now I need to let you know what's happening in another arena.

See the countdown on the right side of the page? That's no joke. From July next year, Australian independent midwives will face a $30,000 fine for attending a birthing woman at home. The proposed legislation states that all midwives have to have personal indemnity insurance, but it won't be offered to independent midwives. This includes Lisa, my midwife and friend, who has seen me through two pregnancies and births, and stuck around when we got the shock of our lives, even though she's had all the training and been a registered midwife for the last 20 years. So basically anyone who gets pregnant after September this year has one less option when deciding where and how to have their babies.

Why? In a nutshell, because those in government just don't care. So home birthers across Australia are out to show them just how much WE care about the issue, show them how many people this legislation is going to impact.

This is more than just a home birth issue. This is a basic human rights issue. Nobody else has the right to tell me where I can or can't give birth, and with whom. Whether you agree with home birth or not isn't the issue here. If women can choose a hospital birth with an elective caesarean, or an epidural, or an induction, then why single out a natural, drug-free home birth, which has hugely better outcomes for both women and their babies?

So on Monday the 7th of September at 11:30 am, there's a rally happening on the steps of Parliament House in Canberra. I'm going one way or another. Are you?

Save Birth Choices

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