29 January 2012

A is for awesome

New shoes

It seems Big Owlet has had a growth spurt and suddenly none of her shoes fit, aside from a pair of thongs. Unfortunately we can't afford the orange Converse she wants right at the minute and all the cheapy shoe places seem to think that it's pink or sparkly or nothing for girls like her... So we wandered down the boys aisle, as we usually do at times like this, and spied the super cheap plain white canvas runners... A-ha! DIY awesome shoes! She set to work, adding bits when the mood strikes, and they keep getting more awesome each day. Just like her :)

My 8 year-old daughter's new original tread! #shoes #handdrawn

pic above by Huz. 

28 January 2012

I made this :: red pants


Just something small for my smallest owlet. A pair of stretchy, comfy pants... made from the sleeves of an old long sleeved top of mine, with a waistband from an old belly band thingamy I made when pregnant with Little Owlet. I didn't have a pattern, just used another tiny pair of pants as a template and figured it out on the machine... like most of my projects. I am rather loving upcycling right now. It seems to suit my style of crafting as I rarely have a plan, but seem to always make do with what materials I have at hand. And Tiny rather loves her comfy pants.

Have you made anything new from old lately?

27 January 2012

the biggest bed in the world


We've been playing musical beds around here for such a long time. Trying to keep flexible enough to accommodate everyone's needs as they grow and change and their needs change. Often we (and by we I mean Huz) will need to sleep in another bed so that an owlet (usually little owlet) can snuggle in and we can all sleep soundly. Our combined needs have changed so much that we now own at least one bed of each size from bassinette to king sized bed. And we've moved the bunks way more times than I can remember. They've been in every room as we've moved between variations on co-sleeping and personal space. I'm a little tired of the musical beds game...

What I do know is that we need to provide the space for the owlets to sleep near us if they need. It's always a bit of a tug of war, this growing up stuff. Our owlets ebb and flow through bursts of independence and needing to be a babe in arms all over again. We could choose to not respond to that need and send them back to bed, time after time, escorting them to the loo for the umpteenth time... Or we could just make some room, both in our beds and our hearts. One day they will sleep in houses of their own and we will miss this.


So, right now we have the biggest bed in the world. Well, maybe not that big, but big enough for us. A king and a queen sized bed pushed together, which fills the room entirely. There's ample room for everyone. And there's still a bed to escape to elsewhere should someone need some space. Right now I have three owlets sleeping soundly. Little owlet's heart just about exploded as she told us this was her dream come true... I expect she'll be sharing the space for a while yet, and that's just fine by all of us. Yes, we will sleep well tonight.

26 January 2012

on camping


You know before you go camping that it's going to be dirty. There will be bugs and wildlife and loud noises in the night. That's half the fun. It's a bonding experience and the owlets will love sleeping all in one enormous bed. You expect, when you pack the car and head off camping on the spur of the moment, that you'll have forgotten some things. What you don't know is just how hard cooking on the ground, in the dirt with a baby around is going to be. Or that one of the air mattresses has a hole in it and you'll be pumping it up hourly through the night so that half the family isn't sleeping on the ground... Or that you'll be located in a campsite right next to the toilets. Convenient, but smelly if the wind blows in a certain direction... which of course it will on the night you happened to go camping...

But in the morning you'll wake up and go for a swim in a lagoon so warm it feels like a bath. Fish will swim all around and you'll be amazed by the beauty of it all. You'll go back and have a nap with the baby and realise that your mattress most likely has a hole too and that the ground is quite cold and hard. But it doesn't phase you, because you've survived. And you know how to fix the problem.

Within two hours you'll have checked in to new luxury digs just down the road. The credit card will be completely maxed now, but somehow you don't care any more. Because you will sleep well and be clean in just moments. The owlets will be happy and the holiday will be saved. In fact you'll have loads of happy memories now. The despondent, sinking feeling you had when the second air mattress deflated is now an hilarious story you can tell each other as you saunter off for a spa... And you know next time you'll be better prepared. You've learned a valuable lesson and the whole thing has been thoroughly worthwhile. Glamping anyone?

25 January 2012


It's been a whole week. I can hardly believe it and yet, it seems like a lifetime since my last post. Summer has occupied us all so entirely that I've forgotten to record all the moments. I've just been living in them. Enjoying, savouring... All that stuff I aim to do so often.

I'm feeling so blessed that we have this time to pause and breathe. Like one giant out breath, we've been camping and gardening, spending long afternoons at the beach. Finding ladybirds and playing with them until they flutter away...

Little ladybird

All sorts of stuff I must update over the next few weeks while I try an reign in my head a little to prepare and make lists and breathe in again. 

But for a little while longer, I'm going to just keep getting absorbed in the moment a bit. Prolonging the days, enjoying them... and breathing...

18 January 2012


I've been on a little voyage abroad with Tiny Owlet. A little wander back to my hometown to spend some time with my family. We missed Christmas with them and it's been a year since they last saw Tiny. She's grown a bit since then...

It was my first time away for the night from Little Owlet and the longest I've been apart from Big Owlet in three years.  I made their fave breakfast before sad faces kissed me goodbye at the airport.

And although it was hard for all of us, I think we all did a little bit of growing.


In fact, the bigger owlets had a marvelous time at home with Huz and he was so brilliantly there for them the whole time.


As they were for him.

Tiny Owlet and I spent lots of time at my favourite Melbourne place, the NGV. In fact, we celebrated the birthdays of two very important people there. We also sampled some cafe culture, amazing food and conversation at my parents' dinner table, sleepovers with my sis and her man and a languid afternoon catching up with old friends. There was just a little bit of time to miss home...

We returned somewhat relaxed, with treats from Mum's kitchen, including her famous apricot jam and some Christmas cake, baked specially... Oh, and a new tooth.

And although I'll miss the food, the conversation and especially the company... It is good to be back in our nest with my owlets and Huz, wandering the garden and sampling summer. I was greeted at the airport by owlets with tiny saved packages of homegrown strawberries and peas. Then at home I was greeted by a tree dripping with beautiful, ripe apricots. Just perfectly ready. All gone now. And so on with summer....

10 January 2012

I made this...

Hibiscus skirt

Around the middle of last week I realised I'm off to Melbourne soon and the weather there was very ridiculously hot. And I don't own any t-shirts. Or many pieces of clothing to wear at all when the weather creeps over 30°C, which doesn't happen all that often in Hobart... I raced off on a cheapy t-shirt hunt (did I mention we froze the credit cards?), and found nothing decent. Anywhere. Until I found the Red Cross shop where having a 2 for $10 sale. Yay! Anyhow, among the bits and pieces was this kaftan...


I liked the colours and even the flowers, but so did not fancy myself walking across the tarmac in a tent. Comfy? Yes. Flattering? On my shape? No. And I'm going to Melbourne, not a tropical resort where I might get away with it poolside.

So I chopped it in half.


Today I had a moment or three to spare, so I sewed some fabric ties from some Japanese quilting fabric I had tucked away. I attached them just below the armpit by picking a little hole in the seam and re-sewing.  So the top half had instant shape and nice long, breezy sleeves.


The bottom half quickly became a very light, breezy skirt. Super dooper comfy and great for the beach, or garden, or home... anything.


Then I glanced at the bottom of the pile at an old denim skirt I wore before owlet times. That almost makes it vintage... Really comfortable and the shape suits me well, but the length. Ugh. Ankle length denim skirt? Not so much.

So I chopped the bottom off it.


See the pattern here? Then I stood in front of my fabric shelf for a really long time. And I pulled out an old fave piece of vintage Japanese scrap fabric and played with it. I had just enough. Exactly. Amazing.


So I made a border and found it works with all my shoes and clothes and I rather like it.


Brilliant stuff. I now have three extra pieces of clothing to play with. And all it cost me was $5. I'm going to attempt to post about more things I make, while I make them. I'll do a little Christmas catch up too. I'm also making a return to making things for the owlet shop and a return to markets! Yay! I'm really excited to be invited to participate in a revamped, beautiful local market, a couple of times this year. So there'll be lots of making going on. Watch this space...

5 January 2012


Harvest #nofilter

Not resolutions so much as aspirations... a plan of attack... a manifesto of sorts. When I read it, it seems like a guide to the basics one needs for survival, with some fluffery added in. Like the staples. The spuds, plus a few luxuries... I'll be happy if I achieve the survival mode aspirations. So far so good...

Drink water. Lots.
Eat real food.
Move my body every day.
Build a fort for us grown ups. A cozy place to escape for a moment. 
Sew myself some new clothes. 
Introduce a night time foot soaking ritual with herbs and salts and Huz. 
Study regularly.
Read a book.
Print on fabric.
Go for walks on my own more.
Sleep more.
Sew as much as I can from my fabric stash.
Plan meals.
Go for more picnics.
Learn a language.
Play music.
Stay home more.
Spend time in the garden every day.
Use cash. Freeze the credit card.
Watch a film each week. 
Sew a quilt.
Relaunch owlet at markets.
Learn to crochet.
Reorganise the nest.
Save money for something big... maybe a tipi. Or a holiday!


I hope your year has begun beautifully... We're busy revitalising the nest. This morning I woke to a house of agitated owlets, grumpy Huz, grumpy me. It was time for a change... so we're reorganising the lot. Again. Throwing stuff out. Again. Cleaning the slate so we can find our rhythm again... We've also been getting up and doing a daily boot camp. Yay! Fun! And ouch! 

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on Monday's post. I was a wee bit nervous about ending Unschool Mondays. There's just so much to write about. I could keep writing for years! And now it seems I'm meme free... I'll miss all the lovely people I've met along the way... I guess I'm looking for fewer limits for myself. So the posts will continue along the same lines, but they won't be restricted to Mondays. And they won't just be about unschooling, but at the same time, they will. Of course they will. How can they not? After all, it is just living... Anyhow, thanks for the support. It means a lot. xx

2 January 2012

unschool monday :: redefining

Paper houses

So we've begun a new year and we're in the middle of our long languid summer... Our days have found a new rhythm. One that's free and floaty in the only way being on holidays can be. We're eating when we feel hungry, sleeping when we are tired. We've lost track of days and time... Big Owlet, however has started wearing a watch and settles down to table work with regularity. She's wanting some structure. Some reassurance. When I look back at last year, we've been largely without structure and it's taken me until now to sit down and figure out what our rhythm might be, if we indeed have/had one.

I've documented well our journey with screens and bedtimes and food. We've spent the last six months letting go of limits on everything. Radical Unschooling is generally what life like this is defined as. Life without limits... The owlets went to bed when they wanted to, ate what they wanted and when, and watched whatever they liked. They became overtired because they didn't go to bed when they were tired, much the same way that I don't when I'm squeezing the last few minutes of kid-free time out of the day. They watched television and played on screens ALL DAY LONG whenever we were home. Downtime most certainly, but we lost our connection and family rhythm. For months I didn't see much of them or have time to connect because they were glued to a screen. And when they weren't they became violent and rude because they couldn't control the energy in their growing bodies. They reacted to foods in ways that affected their behaviour and health. We were continuously sick for six months, one virus/cold/bug after another. Our credit card debt spiralled as we attempted to meet our owlets ever increasing needs... And, Huz and I lost ourselves a little. Saying yes to everything, removing limits, meant we compromised our own.

I've been a member of online facebook groups and lists where it seems there's one right way to unschool. Radical unschooling is often seen as the pinnacle and there's an understanding that this means removing all limits, including limits on food, video games and tv, playing with weapons and barbie dolls, using course language, staying up 'til you crash out on the floor... If you don't embrace it, you must need help letting go or evolving. It seems there are lots of rules to living this limitless life and there is no room for a grey area... Actually, I found it extremely limiting to myself as a human being and my own set of values and the set of values I'd like my children to find. Our approach is very family centred and for us, radical unschooling meant our centre shifted. Although it works brilliantly for a great number of our friends, for us, this kind of letting go was not the answer to family harmony.

Crazy hair

Big Owlet has actively requested more structure for this year. She's asked us to make some decisions on things for her. Asked us to tell her what to do at certain times. Asked for guidance. As has Little Owlet. As unschoolers, we have to listen to that. While we know they've been learning lots, they've not been doing the kind of stuff they like when we are more attentive and we may have become a little slack in that area. So this year sees us working on some themes, sharing ideas more, organising activities and the odd 'lesson' where I introduce a new concept for them to work through. We've reintroduced a gentle bedtime rhythm where owlets wander to bed to read until they are sleepy. They eat family meals and as chief cook, I reserve the right to choose what food we eat. And we give them a nudge when their screen time leans towards excessive. Instead of yes, it's a negotiation. A discussion. And everyone's voice is heard. Sometimes we make decisions on their behalf in the interests of family harmony and health and that's working well. Lots of talking and listening and honesty and loving....

So it seems lately that our approach to unschooling falls a little off the radical register and if it leans towards anything, it'd be Waldorf/Steiner, as it always has. I can hear the radical unschoolers nodding their heads... Waldorf seems to be the anti radical unschooling among those in the radical community... We sit comfortably between the two and can see how they work harmoniously. It doesn't need to be all or nothing as there isn't one type of education that works for everyone. Actually, I think there are as many different approaches to education as there are families. And I don't think creating labels is helpful for anyone. I find judgement creep in and we stop seeing ourselves as individuals. Sets of rules and dogma for particular learning styles is something I find particularly unhelpful when it comes to children learning. Nurturing, loving, security, listening and comfort. These are things children need to learn and live. And however they are provided, doesn't really matter. Whatever you call yourself or your way of life has no meaning really. We're all just living...


And living is what we intend to do. I'm dropping labels from my children's learning experience where I can and just doing what works for us and getting into it head first. A fresh start with lots of new exciting projects on our horizon, listening to their needs. Although I've enjoyed Unschool Mondays and meeting so many wonderful families and finding out about how they're learning and living, I've found that dedicating a day each week to unschooling a little restrictive. Initially I began dedicating a day of the week to unschooling so that this didn't become an unschooling blog, but as learning happens everyday and is really just living anyway, it's impossible to divide it up like that... So I'm letting Unschool Mondays go. They've been a wonderful place for me to define what it is we do and how. But now is time to just get on with it and write about what we are doing whenever and regardless of definition. I'm excited for that. I'll be providing some unschooling resources here and creating an Unschool Monday archive and leaving it at that. From now on, you'll see us living and learning and travelling along with our owlets and enjoying the ride. I hope you'll enjoy it with us. xx