31 August 2011

worldly wednesday :: India


Little owlet chose this week's country. I don't think it's what she was expecting, but we all had a wonderful time...


We learnt lots about Indian music and dancing, did some yoga, learnt some Hindi, watched a little Bollywood, painted our bodies with Henna, applied bindis, wore saris and ate...


Oh how we ate... Tandoori, dahl, rice, paneer, pakora, naan, raita, mango lassi and papadums. Lots of old favourites and enough there to feed two families...


Then, as a contrast, we discussed extreme poverty, large population... We talked about how there are fifty times more people in India living in a space smaller than half of Australia. Talked about how we could be better sharers. Talked about how fortunate we are. Again.

I'm loving just how much these worldly wednesdays are making us think. And learn. I'm sure we could be doing more for each country. But the owlets (particularly Big Owlet) are extremely suss when it comes to educational activities. They do NOT want to be taught anything. Instead, interesting facts are slipped into conversation. Dress ups and food are permitted, cos they're fun and the odd art/craft activity is permitted too. Also fun. But anything else is met with a folding of arms, a crossing of eyebrows and a pouting of lips. Unless it was their idea, or their motivation, they don't want to know... So Huz and I read up for ourselves, talk together and wait for their ears to prick up or their interests to be sparked and along we go...

30 August 2011

surviving the trenches


Tiny Owlet has been unwell again. Again. A mild fever for a couple of days. Poor little one. She just wants to flop. On me. The world just has to stop for a bit until she feels better again. Not so easy when I have bigger owlets needing me to help keep them busy and nourished. I need to keep myself well nourished too, so I can meet Tiny Owlet's needs while retaining my own health and sanity. Days like this, slow days, require a certain big deep breath and letting go. I see them coming and I try to pretend they're not, but some days you just wake up and suddenly you're in the trenches. Maybe it's a sick baby, or a bad mood, or just lack of sleep... As a reminder to me for next time, or perhaps to offer an idea that might help you, here's how we get through it...


Food : I make a huge platter of yummy healthy food. My owlets love raw food and they love grazing. I make sure I include a bunch of protein rich foods, like seeds and nuts, cheese, hommus... It tends to keep us going a bit longer and keep everyone feeling cruisy. Lots of water to keep refreshed and I try to find time for a warm drink or something that makes me feel good.

Plan to do just one thing : One productive thing. Like put a load of washing on, or cut my finger nails. Although the only thing that's really important is that everyone's happy and comfortable, I always feel so much better if I've achieved just one thing. Today I washed the dishes! Woo!


Creative stations : I open the art/craft cupboard and pull some art materials out and leave them on the table for the owlets to find and make something with. Or I put some bubble liquid and bubble blowers on a tree stump outside. Or I leave a pile of colouring pages on a table with a bowl of crayons. Or a pile of picture books.... Something to draw them in while I'm busy elsewhere.

Accept that there will be mess : There will. And they will have had a beautiful time making it, which is the whole point.

Ask them to have a go cleaning the mess up : It can't get that much worse, can it? They might surprise you.


Rest and enjoy the time snuggling : Such precious time. Being completely needed by another person and able to fulfill all their needs with a hug. These days, although hard, pass quickly. You will miss those cuddles.

Accept help from friends : A meal or just a listening ear. It's so good to feel like you're not alone in the trenches.

Accept that the screen will be used for entertainment : Or as a babysitter for a short while. At some point, if I turn my attention away and don't have something for them to move onto, they will probably gravitate towards a screen and although I'd rather they did something else, it's ok. Perhaps it's an opportunity to snuggle up on the couch and watch something together.


Get out for a walk : It perks everyone up. Especially if there's sunshine. The owlets finally put some clothes on and so do I. We get a little oxygen, see some different things, have a chat. The energy changes and the screen habit is broken. Thank goodness for babywearing. Tiny Owlet can stay snuggled while we wander. She nods off quietly as we make our way home...


And wakes up feeling almost her old self again! We survived. And, touch wood, the rest of us are ok too. We'll run a bath , or have a shower and let the day melt away.... Tomorrow will be better. Things will get done, in time. And everyone is feeling happy and nurtured. We are so blessed.

How do you survive days in the trenches at your nest? Do you hunker down and wait 'til it's over? Do you lose the plot a little? Do you slow down and let it wash over you? Do you ask for help? How do you get through 'those' days? xx

29 August 2011

unschool monday :: book week

The internet was all aflutter with updates and tweets about Children's Book Week parades last week. I mentioned this to the owlets and my own experience with book week. It was the big highlight of my primary school years. I recounted who I went dressed as, my favourite characters, my favourite books... I suggested they might want to dress up too. At first reluctantly, then with a little mustered enthusiasm, they ran and found costumes. Big Owlet was Charlotte, of web fame. Little Owlet was the Little Red Hen. Tiny Owlet was Maisy Mouse. Then they paraded around the garden for a bit as we talked about who Huz and I might dress up as for dinner... then Big Owlet said "you know Mum, every week is like book week around here..." She was right. We dress up all the time. We don't really need an excuse. And I don't really need to suggest it. What was my one highlight is their everyday... How lucky we are.

Check out this lovely Book Week celebration and if you feel like joining in with Unschool Monday this week, we'd love to have you.

22 August 2011

unschool monday :: freedom


One of the things I love most about unschooling is the freedom it gives us. The freedom to follow our interests. To run away for a few days and shake things up. Spontaneity. The freedom to follow our hearts. The freedom to say yes.

On our little wandering weekend, Huz and I realised we could be saying yes a whole lot more and the benefits for our little growing owlets would be tremendous. So, we are moving into a new era, I suppose. Walking the walk. Instead of calling bedtime, then dealing with rebellion for an hour or so, we're ready to leave it to the owlets to determine when that is. Along with that, we are removing control from mealtimes and moving towards guidance. Perhaps there's a reason why you neeeeed a bowl of broccoli for breakfast, or ice cream for lunch?

In unschooling circles this is often referred to as radical... For us, it's moving closer towards respecting our owlets as individuals and trusting them to choose what they need, whilst communicating boundaries for each family member. Unlike the old TV series, Get Smart, the opposite of Control is not Kaos. It's freedom :) Little owlet has always self regulated very well. Tiny owlet has known nothing else. Big owlet, however is another kettle of fish, due to how we have parented her in the past. Our first. Oh, my goodness! How far we have come!! I'm sure the me of 8 years ago never thought I'd be sitting here, writing this! When we began unschooling, we were dubious about radical approaches. Big Owlet could never self regulate (or could she?)... But we are at a place now with her where unschooling means she needs to listen closely to her needs and her own body and we need to listen to her. She's demanding that we listen to her on this one. That we trust her. We need to trust her to learn and in all areas of her life. Not just reading and writing... Along with that, we communicate our own needs and a mutual respect is found. Yes, everyone's needs can be accommodated. Yes. So far the results are staggering. For all of us. Fewer arguments. Happier children. Happier parents. Communication. Connection. Freedom.


Some useful links for your perusal...

21 August 2011

Beautiful Bruny :: part two

My creation

Our second full day of our adventure was spent on the northern part of Bruny Island. The north and south are separated by an isthmus that happens also to house a penguin rookery. The north is full of beautiful beaches and bush and to our surprise, Xanthorrhoea australis. Grass trees. Huz and I love them so much, one of our owlets' names is derived from the latin name. So sculptural and amazing and at this size, very old... We spent some time rolling around on Nebraska beach, picking up shells, admiring beach houses, chatting to crabs... Then spotting newborn lambs and penguin footprints on the way back to our shack. Whereupon we all had a nap and an earlyish night. Today I woke feeling renewed. Time away always gives me some fresh perspective. I think we'll need to do this every now and then when we feel in a rut... And so, for once, I'm actually looking forward to Monday. How about you?

PS. Huz has vlogged the trip too! See it here.

19 August 2011

Beautiful Bruny :: part one


Yesterday we woke up late. Rainy morning. Again. Only Thursday... I rolled over and said to Huz "You should take today and tomorrow off and we should go on a holiday". I say it lots. This was nothing new. Then I asked him "What do you have on today?"... "Nothing special" was the reply. Weird. Huz almost always has a meeting or something planned. Today was just regular work. "Ok. I have a couple of days leave..." And after a little muddling around, we were on the ferry, with three owlets and a dog, on the way to Bruny Island. So far we've seen a beautiful sunrise with white capped peaks in the background, bunnies hopping around a remote light house, beautiful beaches, delicious lunch, loads of history and dolphins swimming at sunset. Betty is loving the scenery too... Wow, this week really picked up! I'm excited about tomorrow.

{this moment} :: best friends


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

18 August 2011

my creative space...

Ric rac dolls

I've been chipping away at these ric rac kinder dolls for a while now. I'm almost up to the fun bit. The sewing bit where it starts to come together... The owlets flock to the table with bated breath at the mere sight of me tinkering around in my crafty space. Big owlet is keen to get on the machine and learn all about sewing. I'm excited about that. Now to grab a sneaky chunk of time...

More creative spaces here.

17 August 2011

worldly wednesday :: Mexican birthday fiesta!


At Big Owlet's request, inspired by Betty's Chihuaua heritage, we made a flying visit to Mexico for her eighth birthday. It was the perfect end to a day spent rollerskating and picnicing on the beach.


With her bestie and her sister beside her, three little amigos played with sombreros and fake mustaches, under papel picado flags made the day before. Actually, we all had a go while the mariachi music played.

My creation

Dinner was burritos and nachos and corn...


Followed by cake, designed to Big Owlet's specifications.


Eaten according to tradition, with a big bite by the birthday girl while we all shouted "Mordida!"


Next it was time for pinata, which took quite a beating before the owlets scooped up armfuls of lollies and headed to the bedroom to snuggle and watch Beverly Hills Chihuaua and chatter 'til midnight.


I couldn't think of a better place to spend an eighth birthday. Feliz Cumpleanos, Big Owlet! xx

15 August 2011

unschool monday :: determination

If I needed more reassurance that my owlets will learn if the will is there, it presented itself again last week. From watching Little Owlet overcome her fear of dogs, to this. Another reminder that the drive exists and the reward of gaining knowledge is enough. Big Owlet asked to go rollerskating for her birthday. Just to see if she liked it. She really wanted to learn. When we got there and strapped on the skates, it was harder than she thought. Much harder.

I watched her struggle around the rink. Shuffling slowly. She fell over once or twice. Flat on her bum, so hard that she bruised it. But she kept going. Holding onto the rail for dear life. Just a little past where the above photo was taken, she stood up a little taller. I watched her take a deep breath and stand there for a moment... Then she let go.

I came over all wobbly bottom lip watching her shuffle the length of the rink towards me. No hands, but slowly, slowly gaining confidence. It was like watching her learn to walk for the first time all over again. And then, on her eighth birthday, I remembered just how much she has learnt. How huge each of these tiny milestones are. How she keeps working away at the things she needs to learn, until she figures them out. How she takes it upon herself to learn when there's nothing anyone else can do to help her learn more or faster, she finds the determination. She takes a deep breath and gets on with it. She doesn't do it for grades or praise. She just does it because she wants to learn. She needs to learn.

And she knows that we are there to support her everyday if she needs us. Just waiting to help should she need a hand, just as when she took those first steps. Watching, guiding and beaming with pride at this determined owlet learning just for fun.

11 August 2011

my creative space :: two little owlets...

Two garden skirts for two owlets. Made to order with their mama's loving direction. I hope they like them. xx

More spaces here

10 August 2011

worldly wednesday :: England

After France, we popped over the channel for a little while. Somewhere where everything was so familiar, we realised just how much of our colonial heritage we've retained. We still didn't manage a double decker bus ride through town, as was promised for little owlet's birthday. But one day soon... What we did manage was fish & chips, bangers & mash and hours of music to listen to, playing everything English in our collection. We read books, lots of old favourites. We watched Time Team, Mr Bean, Pride and Prejudice (an owlet favourite) and a snippet of Lord of the Rings. We took tea with scones and home made jam. We talked about the Royal Family, with particular interest in the Queen, forever known in our household since the recent Royal wedding as Mrs. Buttercup. We ate Sunday roast, as we often do, but with slightly more enthusiasm this week, as well as yorkshire pud, elderflower cordial and trifle for dessert. Then more music, watching as many film clips as we could recall before bedtime... My favourite moment: realising just how chalk and cheese big and little owlet are. We played the British national anthem, God Save the Queen. Big Owlet stood with hand on heart, singing along, while Little Owlet shouted and cried. She didn't like that one. Then we put on the Sex Pistols version. To which Little Owlet danced enthusiastically and Big Owlet cried with her hands over her ears. Yep. She's the Alex P. Keaton of the family. Little Owlet is slightly more Vivienne Westwood...

Then we packed away our English things. Moved on and woke up someplace else. But woke to hear of riots all over London. How could this be? Children. Violence. Poverty. We thought of the world our ancestors left behind when they came here from England and other nearby places. Escaping similar things. And we thought of how little the world has changed. How lucky we are to be here, in our nest, where our children know only love and peace and security. Lucky.

Each week we "visit" a different country. If you feel inclined to do the same, we'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment and a link if you'd like. xx

8 August 2011



About this time, fifteen years ago, I was out for dinner and a movie with a boy. We were shivering at a tram stop, on our way to the train station to kiss goodnight for the first time and go to our respective parents' homes. We huddled next to each other and discovered my head fit just underneath his chin. "Should we do this again?" He asked. "Yeah!" I replied. Looking at him as if he were nuts for even asking. As if we wouldn't? And so it began... Happy firstdateiversary, Huz. xxx

unschool monday :: playing with fear :: part two


In the summertime, I wrote about Little Owlet and her fear of the outdoors. About how she was afraid of almost anything outside. How we tried various things to create a safe and nurturing space for her out there. It worked, to a degree in that it made her want to play outside lots, but the fears were still lingering. Most debilitating has been her fear of anything moving and non human. Particularly dogs.


Then we acquired Betty and we felt that she had much to teach us all, particularly Little Owlet. What has been amazing to watch though, is Little Owlet teaching herself to be comfortable around Betty. Watching her train Betty and figure out her place in our pack. Inspired by this blog post, I showed her this clip about fear. Women overcoming fear. She identified with it. She turned to me one day and said "Mama, I'm going to face my fears".


Every day, she has taken it upon herself to spend some time patting Betty. Asking Big Owlet to sit with her while Betty sits on her lap. Venturing outside with her. Walking her on a lead. Feeding her. Giving her directions. Reassuring Betty and in turn, herself. I'm absolutely astonished at how diligent she's been. Driven to learn all about that which frightens her most. And the results! She'll quietly wander off and pop on some gumboots if she feels the situation requires appropriate foot ware, but there's no panic in her voice. No shaking. No crying. She's not so afraid of other creatures now either.


The best thing is that she's done it all on her own terms. In her own time and in her own way. She's learnt so much about animals, about dogs. And a huge amount about herself and facing her fears. I love that she's had time to do it on her own and I'm amazed at other skills she's acquired in the process. Confidence, for one. And a way to work with and around her fear. Another reminder to me that when the time is right, and the will is there, the child will learn. Brilliant stuff.

6 August 2011

owlets + Feist

Before we moved to Tasmania, we imagined a better life for ourselves. A place where our children (there was only one back then), could grow up and feel safe. Where we might have a lovely garden. And cozy winters, with a fire place. We listened to Feist's song Mushaboom and she described it all perfectly. The dream, the longing. Then Huz got a fantastic job offer in Hobart and we listened to that album, Let it Die, constantly as we packed the house up.

Then we arrived. And little owlet arrived too, then we bought our nest. And Feist released a new album, The Reminder. It was hugely popular and made her famous. We named a guinea pig after her. I think she may have come close to that dream, just as we did. Big owlet wanted to listen to it every day in the car on the way to kindy. Every Day. When we rounded a certain bend in the road, I knew that a certain song would play and Big Owlet would bellow "KATE'S FAVOURITE SONG!!", speaking of my sister who danced to that song with her. And the owlets know every word. I can match certain bends in the road to each song on that album. I'd listen to it and think about not driving on that road twice each day. Then we took a leap and chose unschooling and we didn't listen so much...

So Feist is making a new album. It sounds new and exciting and I wonder what new adventures are waiting for us too.

Does your life has a soundtrack? Can you trace your adventures with certain music too?

Follow Feist's adventures here.

5 August 2011

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

4 August 2011

Appley Dapply Afternoon-Tea Muffins

We get hungry in the afternoons around here. This week, we've had a patch of mild weather and spent most of our days in the garden, exploring and rediscovering outside. Rainy days have been spent around the dining table painting and creating, or building cubby houses. Serious stuff. Hungry work. I've been looking for ways to fill out our regular snacks with nuts and seeds and extra fruit and vegies. These muffins are Big Owlet's favourite. And that's saying something, because she doesn't like muffins...

Appley Dapply Afternoon-Tea Muffins
Makes 12

2 cups flour
4tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup rapadura (or sugar if you like, but you don't need as much honey)
100g butter
1 dessert spoon honey
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 small apples, grated
1 small handfull sultanas
1 small handfull sunflower seeds
1 small handfull rolled oats
sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C
Sieve the first three dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add rapadura.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the honey. Remove from heat and beat in the milk and egg.
Tip the liquid, fruit, seeds and oats into the bowl with the flour and rapadura. Fold together gently.
Place spoonfuls of mixture into buttered muffin pans or patty pans. Fill to about 3/4 full.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and pop in the oven for about 12 -15 mins, until they spring back when pressed in the centre.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 2-3 minutes before lifting from their pans.
Eat with lashings of butter, or just as is, leaving a trail of crumbs behind you...

3 August 2011

worldly wednesday :: France (part two)


Well I missed last week's post about our French travels, what with birthdays and flu, but we've decided to stay in our next country for a couple of weeks also, so plenty of time to catch up... France has been our favourite country so far. As I mentioned, there was lots of French conversation, surprising myself at how much I remembered - occasionally making it up! We listened to some of our favourite bands, like Phoenix and Air...


On Saturday, we listened to our Edith Piaf record over petit dejeuner. Then we hopped in the car and after a garage sale, and a wander around the botanic gardens, we went in search of Hobart's French history. A drive down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, stopping off for a quick cheese tasting at the Grandvewe sheep cheesery, then ate bread and cheese, looking across at Bruny Island.


Sunday lunch the next day was Poule au Pot. A meal eaten in the south west of France, traditionally on Sundays. A delish pot full of chicken, vegies and broth. Very healthy, very yum. Followed by chocolate souffle which did not do what it was supposed to for a number of reasons so I didn't photograph it. But it tasted yum all the same. With full tummies, we watched some Tour de France highlights and a couple of Saunday arvo classic movies. Le Ballon Rouge and then, as the owlets demanded a talking movie, we watched Funny Face. Not easy to find kid friendly non subtitled French films! But these were so perfect.


We've decided to continue speaking French whenever possible and we're going to do a little online course so the others can understand what I'm talking about. Big owlet is particularly keen because she is in love with the Eiffel Tower and all things Paris. She wants to live there one day. I can totally see her doing it. I've not mentioned that her grandparents will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary there in less than a month. She'll be positively green with envy.

1 August 2011

unschool monday :: super sleuth


I've mentioned before that Big Owlet is fascinated by all things spy and detective at the moment. I'm not entirely sure that she knows what one actually is, but she's role playing as a way to understand it. Much like she did with faeries when she way three. She's set up her top bunk as a private hide-out and detective office. She wears the clothes when we go out and reads Nancy Drew books into the wee hours. She hit a stumbling point last week though. She wanted to be a real detective. Just like her faerie fascination, the longing to make the play into reality made her sad...


So we sent her on a mission. Huz and I talked it over one night when big owlet was sleeping and he sat down to write a mystery for her to solve. She had to follow a series of clues and puzzles to answer a question. In the process, she worked on her spelling, learned how to use a calculator and had to think laterally (not something that comes easily to 7yo). This is the brilliant bit of unschooling where we follow their interests and all sorts of learning happens along the way. We've covered History and Geography too, among other things that week. We also tick off the career development requirement for our registration with this one, I suppose... Anyhow, she loved it. She loved it so much that she forgot to eat and by the time we realised, were on our way into town. The next step was to find a book at the library. The Eleventh Hour, by Graeme Base. A book full of secret codes and mysteries to solve. Unfortunately the library's copy went missing and the Librarian was not feeling up to the case, so we went and bought it from the book shop instead...


But oh what a fun day! And when she did finally sit down with the book and some food, she loved it. And she's still going with cracking the codes. She's asked for a new case everyday. Or at least once a week. Unless there's something else she'd rather be. It's looking like Magician might be next.