31 July 2012

tree of life


When Big Owlet was born, we were so happy to have her here, healthy and by any means. We didn't take the time to think about what her experience may be like. We didn't offer her the most optimal birth. We didn't know until I birthed at home, exactly how peaceful and respectful birth could be. The way we birth is important. Not just for the mother, but it is also important to provide our babies with a birth that honours their journey. The gentlest, safest birth, and a time after birth that is respectful, gentle and nurturing. We didn't look at Big Owlet's placenta with amazement when it was held up to us at the hospital. We were just happy it was out and gone and done with, so we could get on with things. It didn't occur to us that the placenta would be important to Big Owlet. It was removed from her before the cord stopped pulsating and taken away.


Big Owlet has seen two beautiful, healthy placentas. It was the first thing she looked for when her sister, Little Owlet was born. She's marvelled at them, studied them, held them and helped bury them under trees in our garden. She has a huge amount of respect for the tree of life that has helped grow and nourish two of her sisters. She's confused as to why we threw hers away. She wants to have her own placenta tree. She wants to know that we think her placenta, the beautiful thing that grew and gave her life, is important too...


So, I asked my beautiful friend Apwool to make a placenta for Big Owlet. Quirky, yes. But very symbolic and very important for our placenta lovin' owlet. When she opened the parcel from Apwool yesterday, she teared up. "Its my placenta!" she beamed. She cuddled it tightly, then inspected it and held the umbilical cord to her navel. It's super cuddly, so she's decided to spend some time snuggling and bonding with it and maybe one day, when she's ready, she'd like to bury it under a pear tree in the garden, next to her sisters' trees. Thanks again Apwool for such a generous and beautiful gift of time and love (and felt!). This has gone such a long way to showing Big Owlet that we respect and honour her experience and healing that somewhat. Such an important need to meet for each of our owlets and a simple gift I'm so glad we were able to provide.

30 July 2012

unschool monday :: feminism, princesses, dolls and owlets


I'm a feminist. Huz calls himself a feminismist and we endeavour to instil feminist values in our owlets. A necessary measure when you live and raise daughters in a patriarchal society, as we do. The irony that my current job description is probably something like "home duties" isn't lost on me. If anything it highlights the patriarchy that devalues my role as equal partner and full-time educator. But how do we work to instil feminist vales in our owlets? How does that work with unschooling? Last week, Natalie asked: 

"So I have a question... Have Disney Princesses invaded your nest? I have a nearly 4 year old who is princess-crazy. This obsession leads to hours of imaginative play, colouring in, reading and story telling. But conversely there are so many negative associations with the princesses - antifeminism, consumerism, external beauty etc.

Does unschooling embrace any interest? Or would it limit/redirect some?"

Yes, Disney Princesses have invaded our nest from time to time. As has Barbie. The owlets have pocket money that they spend each week on what they like. They have bought themselves Barbie dolls at a garage sale and Princesses on a wander through a department store... I don't love them. They know this. But it isn't about me. We don't go out of our way to buy them or give them as gifts, but if an owlet takes it upon herself to buy Barbie or Princesses, we figure it must be important to her. We encourage her to make her own choices based on the information in front of her. We nurture her interest in a broad sense and use it as an opportunity to provide an ethical and feminist critique.

Little Owlet is particularly enamoured with dolls and princesses of all kinds. She loves Cinderella best of all, I suspect because she also has a thing for shoes. Rather than just watching Disney movies, we read old fairytale versions that are slightly different to the ones she knows. We talk about the characters and what their lives are like, why they've been written to assume certain roles. We look at alternative depictions of the princesses Disney has chosen. We read fairytales with strong female characters, or twisted fairytales. We talk about real life princesses and what it is they do... We play with Barbie and we look at her body and discuss it in context to our own. We talk about her clothes. We talk about who might have made her and how and we imagine what it might be like when Time Team do an archaeological dig in 500 years time and discover a layer of Barbie and Princess dolls.... The owlets spend hours colouring, playing, acting out stories, reading (as Natalie mentioned), and doing puzzles. They know they are not beautifully made, or lovely to hold, but they love to play with dolls of all shapes and sizes, because the game is what's important to them.

We compromise with Blythe. Her body shape is girlish and she has flat feet... and fashion sense in spades. And the owlets LOVE her. They relate to her. They love that each one is so different and can be customised. Saving for Blythe has led to lots of numeracy learning, further discussions about fashion and body image, history and geography discussions... Mastering of ebay... Building... I expect there will be much crafting for Blythe in years to come. A recent trip to the shops to see if Barbie might have something in her wardrobe that Blythe might like to wear turned up a big fat NO. Barbie is very fond of pink shiny lycra... Blythe is not. Blythe isn't into platform stilettos either. The owlets' feminist critique continues to bubble away, helping them question why and how things are marketed the way they are... And OH the questions!! A visit to the toy department is a really interesting and eye-opening visit almost every time. Add to this the fact that we've just bought a business promoting handmade, ethical and natural products and discuss why we care about these products with the owlets, and we have a fairly well rounded response to Disney and Barbie. If we banned them altogether, we might miss the opportunity for those discussions with the owlets. But we show them that there is SO MUCH more choice out there if you shop around and use your imagination... Their fascination with them doesn't last. It fades and gets lost in the message of what they've learnt along the way. But they had a lovely time learning it...

For more on Princesses and feminism, you can't go past Unschool Monday regular, Sazz.
And Shae captured it all beautifully with this post on what she wants her daughters to know
Oh, and this fabulous post by Wildecrafted, on Barbie and even some doll customisation. 

Thanks for reading along with Unschool Monday. If you have a question for me, or one of the other participants on the linkup, ask away! I'm happy to try and answer here next time. If you feel like linking up, it'd be lovely to have you on board and see how unschooling happens at your nest. xx

29 July 2012

27 July 2012

Now We Are Six

Daydreamer... #porthole #playground #loveher

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

The End
A.A Milne 

Happy Birthday to my gentle, cautious, creative, courageous, strong, wise, loving Little Owlet. This day six years ago changed us forever. We were set on a path of loving, patience  and letting go. You've brought so much joy and understanding with you. Through you, I understand the importance of respecting the loving bond between mother and babe. I see it still in how you look at me and it is always surprising and confronting how you can love someone so completely. I can see how when you love unconditionally and selflessly, it is returned. The photo above was taken one morning at the playground. You smiled at me as I snapped away. I moved the camera down so we could smile at each other while I took your photo and there it was. That complete look of love and trust. May all children love like that... And experience the same in return. 

23 July 2012

unschool monday :: a different paradigm


I received a lovely message from my friend, Polly, last week. I haven't replied yet as I've been mulling over what to say (in amongst nursing sick owlets). The question she asked is one I often get, so I thought I might answer here in case others find it helpful (hope you don't mind, Poll!)... Polly wanted to know what we loosely base our education system on and what are the guidelines or benchmarks by which we know our owlets are 'achieving' for a certain year... 

I could say what we tell the education department when we register each time... That we are aware of the curriculum and have contact with schooled children the same age as our children. That we nudge them along in the right direction in order to keep up. I could say that we have purchased various workbooks and forms of curricula to peruse and strew if we need to. I could demonstrate that the owlets are often ahead in various areas where they are expected to achieve and perhaps need some more nudging in others... But really, that is not what we are doing here. When we actually break down what unschooling is and how it works, we are working on a completely different paradigm.


There is no benchmark for an unschooled child. Unschooling seeks to nurture the whole person and the child's vision of herself. What I want for their future is not important. We are seeking to nurture people who are interested in the world around them and everything in it. We are nurturing curiosity and a love of learning through living their experiences. A question or a thought process comes up, we explore it and all of the many questions that come from it. We follow that thought until it becomes another one, and so on. If I set a list of rules and benchmarks for an owlet to achieve, we move to a different method of learning. We begin to tell them what to learn. This method may be perfectly suited to other owlets, but, so far, not mine. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if they sat a NAPLAN test, but really, I can see that the things they are learning about are often quite different to what they learn in school. They learn things as, and when, they need and not always to a specific timeframe. The basics, like reading, writing, arithmetic... they happen along the way, naturally, as they follow their interests. They need to learn more, as part of living. The other stuff, if they are exposed to it and show interest (usually they will), they learn as par for the course... Our job is to help make life interesting and expose them to as much stuff as possible, following their interests along the way...


So... What happens when an owlet wants to go to school, or uni and they need to prove they can achieve certain benchmarks? If one of them is keen to go, they will do the work necessary to be where they want to be. If I were to want to take up study or work somewhere, I'd do the work to make sure I was on track. If I needed extra help in a certain area, I'd ask for it. Maybe I'd hire a tutor..?

How do I know the owlets are getting an education that is well rounded enough? It is well rounded enough for them. They are becoming the people they want to be. The people they already are. I'm here to help them access it. If there are gaps, they'll find them and fill them. Really, they will, and they do!

Some reading on the basics of Unschooling. What it means, how it works.

John Holt - What is Unschooling? 
Research on Unschooling
Pam Sorooshian - I Live Therefore I Learn : Living and Unschooled Life
Earl Stevens - What is Unschooling?

Thanks for reading along with Unschool Monday. If you have a question for me, or one of the other participants on the linkup, ask away! I'm happy to try and answer here next time. If you feel like linking up, it'd be lovely to have you on board and see how unschooling happens at your nest. xx

21 July 2012

little icy fingers


My owlets seem not to feel the cold. Tiny Owlet spends all of her days at home bereft of pants. The owlets will happily wander barefoot through frosty grass... They do seem a little less pleasant to be around on days where they've forgotten shoes though. I try, for the most part, to keep them warm and snuggly. It keeps things happier and healthier on chilly winter days.

The owlets, however, insist on eating icypoles, even on the coldest days. Fortunately, my time spent pinning comes to good use occasionally and I was able to whip up a few of these icy pole holders the other day.  I had about 3 minutes in which to do it, so mine aren't as polished as the original tutorial. But they are functional... and those little fingers are a lot less icy. Which is great news for me when those teeny little hands no longer seek to warm themselves under my shirt! Ice blocks I tell you! Ice blocks!

20 July 2012

the winter garden


We've had a bit of a long week. Sick owlets. Too sick to go out. Too sick to leave bed or the couch. We've approached it with patience and good humour for the most part, staying indoors and enjoying snuggling... But this time of year seems so bleak without friends around. So cold when the sun isn't out... But today we had a lovely little moment of sunshine. Owlets coming down with new sniffles, but needing some sunshine and time outside to play and listen and find nourishment in nature...


While exploring, we discovered there's plenty of nourishment in our own little garden. Even at this bleak time of year.


Lemons, broad beans, herbs... Kale for green smoothies. A veritable feast! Enough to give us a little healthy boost to end our week, with hopes of joining civilisation again next week.

Broad-bean dip

About 1kg broad beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs oregano
1 tspn ground cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Shell the broad beans.
Put the garlic and a teaspoon of salt into a mortar and pestle and work into a paste.
Remove the oregano leaves from the stalks, chop, place in a small bowl with cumin and set aside
Put the broad beans and a pinch of salt into a saucepan and just cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 mins until the beans are tender
Drain the beans, retaining the cooking water.
Put the beans, oregano and cumin, lemon juice, garlic and 1/3 of the cooking water into a food processor. Whizz until smooth. Scrape the sides with a spatula, then add olive oil while blades are running. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*From Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids - Penguin (simplified a little by me)*

17 July 2012


Sneak peek no.3 #natural #beeswax #crayons
Sneak peek no.2 #rainbow #spiralgarden
Teeny tiny sneak peek... Lovely new things for the garden!

Beeswax crayons, gnomes, rainbows, spirals, felt... these are some of the things that have kept us busy of late. So busy! Filling our nights and even our days with stuff to do. It is exciting and fun, but there's lots more to do! In case you missed it, Huz and I are the proud new owners of a lovely online shop called Spiral Garden. We've been buying things from there for a number of years. I've even supplied them with some of my own handmade wares. We intend to continue to support local crafters, artists, designers and WAHMs, keeping the environment, ethics and budgets in mind... It's a huge challenge to grow this lovely thing and find more time in days that are already so stretched. But we hope it's the beginning of wonderful new things.

You can find Spiral Garden on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. The blog is over here and this is the shop. I hope you'll join us and watch it grow as we introduce many more lovely things. We hope it'll be a lovely organic thing, just like any garden should be. xx

16 July 2012

unschool monday :: growing

Same kid, Same peepo. Left pic as a 2yo, right at nearly 9. My little girl is growing up!

What I love most about unschooling would have to be flexibility. Every day is new before us and full of choices. We don't have anything we absolutely HAVE to do. Our days are mostly based on what we feel like doing, around the basic needs we have like eating and sleeping and keeping ourselves and our home neat and tidy. It is kind of like that period of time before a toddler grows and heads off to kindergarten. You can choose not to go to playgroup and no-one will miss out. You can visit a friend if you feel like it, or go to the shops... or just stay home in your pyjamas.

Before Big Owlet went to kindergarten, I thought about unschooling and how I could never do it long term. I'd need to get back to doing something for me. Perhaps work. Although that didn't necessarily feel like it was for me either... I imagined days spent patiently with children, teaching them stuff and it all sounded too exhausting. Too impossible. But children grow. Their needs change, and it gets easier. Living with them becomes easier, then harder, then easier again, and so on... The life you have with a toddler changes when they become a preschooler and living all day with an almost nine year old is so different to life with an almost two year old... I know this because I have one of each...

So often people will say to me that they'd like to unschool, but they just couldn't because they need time for other things, time to themselves. Their three-year-old is such a handful, they just couldn't spend all day with them, forever. And so the age old adages come in to play. This too shall pass... It takes a village... And more importantly, they grow up so quickly! If you're entertaining the thought of unschooling, but worried because life with a four year old is challenging, perhaps entertain the thought just a little longer... Because they will grow. And you'll find a rhythm that works. They will be so much more independent. They will be demanding and challenge you at almost nine in ways they never did at two, but they will also be so easy to have around. Great team members to have along for the day. Mates. And looking at the world through their eyes brings such joy.

On top of Mount Fuji. #summit #instatassie1

As for Big Owlet, she's still happy living without school right now. Of course, flexibility is key and if we reach a stage where life with school would be preferable, or necessary, we'll explore that, as we have before. Big Owlet entertains thoughts of university as a good point to experience schooled life. Or perhaps becoming a cartoonist, but she tells me she won't need school for that, because she already is one ;)

Ommm. #instatassie1 #meditate

Things Big Owlet is up to with her days (and nights) this week:

* Writing letters to her pen pal, Ruby.
* Reading the BFG.
* Figuring out the difference between fiction and non-fiction books.
* Taking complete responsibility for her kittens.
* Baking for the family, all on her own.
* Checking out the Aurora in the sky over our back fence.
* Horse riding and Scouts.
* Playing guitar.
* Collecting beach glass and learning all about it.
* Helping to plan our garden for the spring.
* Planning a tree house of her own.
* Spending time with friends.
* Learning to crochet.
* Thinking about her money, how much she earns and how she wants to spend it.
* Drawing all the time.
* Counting down sleeps until her ninth birthday - Eeeep!


Thanks for reading along with unschool monday. If you're new to the term unschooling (or even if you're not!), I'd highly recommend going and having a read of Shae's "Unschooling 101" post from last week. She says it all so succinctly. Of course, unschooling isn't for everyone, but it is a fantastic option available to the majority. How lucky are we to have such great choices?! If you'd like to join in this week, add your link below and we'll all follow the links and get to see unschooling working at your place. Winning all round! 

15 July 2012



This weekend we've been making these...


Moving the furniture around to get the chi flowing...


Eating curries...


Enjoying the glow of the fire...


And rediscovering the guitar and creativity and what makes us tick... I'd love to say we're all prepared for the week ahead, but somewhere the wheels seem to have fallen off and we have at least one unwell owlet as I type... Ah well... Hoping your weekend was lovely and your week is just beautiful and that all your owlets are healthy and happy. xx

9 July 2012

unschool monday :: this is how we roll

Collaborating... Building a model of their ultimate treehouse

It's been a little while since I updated exactly what a day looks like in our nest. A home day. One of those ones where we just wander and let the day flow over us... Actually, I find the happiest days around here require a little nudging along to keep things fresh and relaxed. Not a plan as such, but most certainly a gentle rhythm, which I have talked about before... Quiet home days can turn into a day in front of the screen, for all of us... Or I can get distracted by the million and one things to do and somehow the day ends up in a big mess. Winter days can be like that and while the screen can be helpful and lots of fun for all of us, when we are not getting so much outdoor time, I find the energy becomes a little stale and angsty. So we look to a rhythm and I assume the role of gentle nudger... Kind of like the sun keeping all my planets in orbit...

Big Owlet has always responded to a plan. She loves being surprised with a whole bunch of activities carefully designed just for her. Then she reserves the right to reject said plans... I'm getting to a point now where I can almost predict where she's wanting to go and I've been quite amused to observe that she's kept fairly on track with her peers at the Steiner school she started out at, choosing topics of interest and working on things at a similar time. This year she's all about building, which happens to be what they do in grade three at most Waldorf/Steiner schools. So with this in mind, I have a loose waldorfy curriculum sitting in a file on the computer for those days where we need some nudging. We'll use it for a prompt if things get stale and talk about what's in the pages, then explore it in our own unschooly way, if we feel like it. In the picture above, the owlets are working together to build a lego treehouse, a model that we might replicate and build in the garden in the warmer months.

Little Owlet is happy to join in and work on whatever Big Owlet is doing, but in her own playful way. I see now why so many home educators pitch their learning at the eldest child and the younger children join in. When Little Owlet tires of what we are doing, she dives back into that play world of hers and drags Tiny Owlet along for the ride....

Of course, there are days where we're all just feeling like doing not much aside from going with the flow of the day and seeing where it leads. That's the great freedom of Unschooling that I love most. Sometimes these days are the best. Somedays they end up in a great big ball of chaos. On those days, I remember that I'm the sun and pull everything back to that slow, gentle rhythm. We'll all tidy up a bit and sit down to afternoon tea and breathe for a moment before preparing for the evening. Somehow conversation flows and peace falls upon our nest and the week rolls on...

I must confess, I've been a terrible linkup hostess the past couple of weeks... a holiday and the beginning of a new business will do that, I suppose. I have lots of catching up to do reading all the amazing blogs that have linked up here over the past few weeks! Looking forward to it! Do join in if you can, or enjoy reading along when you have a chance. There's a wealth of insight and inspiration shared on Unschool Mondays!

4 July 2012

owlets rock out

Big Owlet feeling the music #singing #bandpractice

Our favourite thing about Melbourne is family. We miss them so much when we are home and quietly wish they'd followed us when we made the journey down here to Hobart... Alas, they are city folk. And we are not (well not for very long)... For the owlets, a large highlight of their time with family is hanging out in their uncle Cam's rehearsal studio. Most of their rock dreams are fulfilled...

Little Owlet feels it too #drums #bandpractice

 Usually they spend hours rehearsing before a chaotic grand performance. Cam is so generous with his time, treating the owlets as equals, allowing them to share his space, showing them how to use the instruments and encouraging their ideas. It's pretty ace. They're so blessed to have him.

Tiny Owlet joins in too #keyboard #vocals #bandpractice

I'm looking forward to more rehearsals, more gigs and more opportunities to cheer wildly to the random musical stylings of our owlets... especially when their new cousin owlet joins in! Good times ahead!!

2 July 2012

unschool monday :: the universe at our feet


We really do have the best of everything... We are so fortunate to be living in this time and place where information is so accessible. And for our owlets to be out in it, asking, learning constantly, witnessing real life everyday. There are so many opportunities to see, touch, interact. Our last week has been mind expanding for all our owlets. They've met new family members, made new friends, developed new fascinations, learnt so much... Before we left, things were getting a bit stale. Wheels were falling off. Big Owlet was asking for "something to dooooo!". But after a week away, a week of a completely different lifestyle, a different universe, home and normal is just right. They have a new perspective on their surroundings, each of them, and they are so ready to launch back into life as they know it, in our nest.

Big Owlet informs me that today she begins a new job, in the playroom, starting at 7.30am. Little Owlet clocks on at 8am. I shall be very interested to find out what careers they've chosen this time... Perhaps they'll branch into something new that they encountered while away... Tram driver, Museum Curator, Zoo Keeper, Astronomer... The universe really is at their feet...

Thanks for reading along this Unschool Monday. I'm a week behind, catching up on last week's links when I was away from the computer... can't wait! Sooo good to catch up with everyone again. Next time I have a cuppa in hand, that's what I'll do. Yes! I hope you'll join in and read along and maybe add your link too!

1 July 2012

sunday snippets :: melbourne

Rainy day baby-wearing in downtown Chinatown. #babywearing #melbourne
Yep they reeeally struggle with the café culture.  #cafe #melbourne
First meeting. #nephew #clucky #dudes
And the caravan rides forth. #elephant #ride
I had a run in with a baboon today. #zoo #baboon #attack
I really do! Someone proposed in the sky this morning... I wonder if she loves him too?  #love in the #sky
Rose pavilion ceiling #melbourne #gardens #pattern
All up the tree #climbing #tree #cork
The inter-generational water wall. Love it. #waterwall #ididthesame
My hot wife hangin' with her cutie-patootie god-daughter. @owletmama @allthatsazz
Wall Art.

{sunday snippets} A collection of photos from your week.  No need for words.  Let the picture tell your story. Joining in with {tinniegirl}