24 March 2014

Unschool Monday :: Rambling...


Well… after a valiant attempt on both our behalves to, at Big Owlet's request, very loosely follow the Australian grade five Steiner curriculum, Big Owlet proclaimed herself "a little bit bored" with that and has set aside her research books for now and moved on… Time at the table, working together has made way for short bursts of inspiration and chats over mealtimes while we all ramble a bit and find our way through the day.  Finding rhythm within that, to satiate Big Owlet's sometimes-love of structure, and knowing when to let go of the structure in favour of fun and chaos, is what keeps this nest bubbling along happily.

Scones with jam and cream in the garden #yum #owlets

So Big Owlet is currently rising early, often to work on her drawing in a quiet nest, before her siblings awake. She also steals moments at times during the day to keep drawing... always drawing and practicing. She still asks me to work on an art exercise with her from time-to-time, but for the most part she's working at her drawing on her own, taking on suggestions as they arise.

Owletception; Big Owlet free-styling owlets.

We found some anime and manga drawing books on sale at a bookshop in town and Big Owlet set to work not long after. She's been enjoying graphic novels and we've been analysing the social constructs and sexual stereotypes within some of the anime and comic genre while exploring feminist anime characters. We've also, of course,  been watching lots of Miyazaki films. Then sometimes Big Owlet will just break out and draw something from observation. She's beginning to get over her perfectionism and can see that her work is improving.

Then there's role playing. Huz visited his Mum and picked up all his old Dungeons & Dragons and Middle Earth role-playing books and miniatures geekery - an absolute treasure trove for Big Owlet and where she's at right now. It's also providing hours of fun for Huz who's constructing games for Big Owlet which surprisingly take in lots of geographic, historical and mathematical concepts, while testing her literary thinking and knowledge. Add to that her Minecraft Homeschool Vikings unit, her days with friends at co-op, gymnastics and kung-fu and weekend adventures and she has pretty busy days!

Little Owlet got bored with #whole30 so she made up a recipe and cooked the owlets pancakes. #idleparentingwin #unschooling #littleowlet

Little Owlet is still absorbed in her cook book. Always adding to it and re-visiting recipes. Taking ideas from books we read and films we watch. Once a week she stays up late on her own to watch a tv show with me and Huz. Her show of choice, without fail, is Iron Chef. She always wants the challenger to win. Dismayed with the lack of baking while I'm undertaking the Whole30 challenge, she's taken to cooking every day for her sisters and still always grabs the spoon from my hand when I'm cooking.

Lately Little Owlet has taken to gardening alongside me and I'm secretly hoping some of that practical interest will cross over and she'll enjoy learning holistically about where the food she's cooking with comes from. Both interests have certainly helped quell her fear of the outdoors and experimenting with new foods. Progress! Yes! She's also working super hard at reading, mastering her first small chapter book and spelling out random words she's learnt, off the top of her head. I'm loving watching her literacy learning path and how it is so different to her sister's.

Dr Cheeseballs is working very hard to cure Tiny's severe case of squeezels. #owlets #playmatters

As for Tiny, well, her days are filled with play and exploration of the sensory kind. Just as life should be when you are three. She's coming down with the squeezels quite regularly these days, so it's a good thing that Dr Cheeseballs is here to help.

Also, Tiny gives thanks to all the tiny things of our warm subterranean earth, especially this worm.

So our days are pretty loose and flowing gently right now. A little out breath, perhaps before Winter. They seem to match these golden, last warm days of Autumn and I'm thinking of squirrelling away some nurturing, inspiring resources and activities for wintry days.

We give thanks to the King+Queen of the worms for enhancing the productivity and resplendentness of our food forest.

I'm also making the most of the garden and it's always lovely to find an owlet or three spending time alongside me, playing, digging, helping or daydreaming. Foraging for berries and eggs, playing with pets or bouncing on the trampoline… Golden, rambling unschooling days indeed.

How are your days rolling along? 
Is your year different to how it started out?
Getting much time in the garden? 

Have a wonderful week. xx

**Photos in this post are by me @owletmama and Huz @berondi

17 March 2014

Unschool Monday :: Social Awareness

Sleepy protester #owletwearing #marchinmarch

It's a wonderful thing to watch an owlet grow into an awareness of people and things going on around them. To see their thoughts develop and change on issues involving others and how they might help.

At first it might be a response to an issue that affects someone they care about. Tiny Owlet, in her own way, gets why mining and dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, for example, might not be desirable…

"We have to go because they want to put mulch on Nemo's home" #3yoactivist #marchinmarch
"We have to go because they want to put mulch on Nemo's home." 
They might go through a phase of understanding issues, but not totally grasping why they are important, or that people as small as them can make a real difference. So they help those in their immediate surroundings. Little Owlet does this by cooking for her sisters everyday.
And then they gain an understanding of their emerging place in the world. They want to do something and look for ways to help.

Not in her name #notinmyname #marchinmarch #bigowlet

Yesterday was eye opening for Big Owlet. Over breakfast, we talked about the new state government coming in and how their policies affect our way of life. We also talked about the national protests happening over the past three days. The March in March, a motion of no-confidence in the current federal government. We talked about many of the issues under discussion; Tasmanian forests under threat, treatment of asylum seekers, cuts to the ABC… The list goes on and on, but those were the three that stood out for Big Owlet.

We read the owlets the children's book, Ziba Came on a Boat, for some perspective on asylum seekers. Then we discussed the reality of what might happen to Ziba as she neared Australia. Big Owlet stood, with tear in her eyes, and asked why children weren't allowed to vote. "Aren't we people too?" Then she demanded to go to the march.

It wasn't her first protest rally either, but the first that she cared about. And for the first time she saw she
could get involved and do something. A very empowering feeling for an owlet.

She signed her name to the big banner that said "not in my name". She stood there, clapping until her hands were sore, while the speakers spoke. She cast her vote. She cared.

Big Owlet cried real tears today when we told her about the rally and why it was happening. Frustrated that she can't vote, she really wanted to go. And she clapped 'til her hands hurt. Rallies always make me teary. All that passion among so many good hea

We listened to Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support's Emily Conlan make an inspiring speech and and one point read a diary excerpt that claimed the people who make and support these rules, that we were there to protest, are made by people who were raised to be "obedient children". "May I never have an obedient child", she proclaimed… And we couldn't have agreed more as we clapped and marvelled at our own disobedient children rolling around on the grass at our feet.

We came away with a bunch of ideas for getting involved further. Letters to write, volunteering to be done, people to speak to, new friends to make. And so unfolds the beauty of this unschooling path.

Unschooling is, for us, about providing discussion and opportunity for owlets to develop an awareness of the world around them. I really can't think of a better place to do that than in the real world here, with real people, hearing real stories and finding ways every day to cast our vote, make a difference and care for each other and the world around us. There isn't a NAPLAN test for social awareness. But really, it should be one of the key things that all our owlets grow up with, don't you think?

How do you talk to your owlets about the hard stuff?
What do you do to help raise their social awareness?
Do you think social awareness is important for your owlets? Or not at all? Not yet?

Have a gorgeous week. xx

16 March 2014

Weekend adventurers :: Freycinet

Today was fab #Freycinet #tasmania #camping

A couple of weeks ago, we had another magical weekend away. I think we even managed to relax! We really found our camping groove, crazy winds, sleepless nights and all. This time, we were camping in one of my favourite spots in Tasmania, Freycinet National Park.

The Hazards + Mini Hazards. || #freycinet #thehazards #tasmania #instatassie

We camped at Richardson's Beach, nestled into the vegetation right on the beach in a lovely, private little spot, serviced by good facilities and amazing views. We could have stayed for a week or more...

Wish I could have taken the week off work. || #campsite #freycinet #sunset
Sunset from The Hazards. || #owlets

The first time I visited Freycinet, over 12 years ago now, the colours leapt out and really surprised me. Such bright turquoise! And rust red rocks! And yellow lichen! The greens! The reds! The blues! I swore to myself I'd design a fabric for this place someday. Or something. I think I fell in love with Tasmania when we visited this very spot…

Beautiful Freycinet #tasmania #instatassie #latergram #sleepybay

Sleepy Bay. My mind often wanders to this spot when I think about Tasmania. All those years ago, it made an impression, and we'd not been back since…


Of course, there were fewer of us there then and it was slightly more peaceful… but it was wonderful to stumble across it again this time and spend some time exploring with the owlets.

Revisiting a favourite spot #sleepybay #freycinet #tasmania #instatassie
Granite boulders and water views #sleepybay #tasmania #camping #instatassie
On the walk down to Sleepy Bay, Tiny fell asleep in my arms. We made a makeshift bed out of our jumpers, and in a shady patch between towering boulders we lay her down for a nap and a feed. Something tells me babies have been breastfeeding here for tens o

One of the things that amazed us was the feeling of being all alone. Despite full camping sites and a full resort and little town either side of us, we mostly had the beach to ourselves. Tasmania can be surprising and wonderful like that.

Sam enters Mordor alone (but its cool cuz Sauron racked off ages ago!). || #fourthage #hobbit
Freycinet dreaming #latergram #tasmania #instatassie

And so, that's where our summer ended…

Sunset at Freycinet #tasmania #camping #instatassie
Sunset and waterfront camping. Beautiful. ❤️

On the beach, watching the sun set before sleeping by the waves and rising to pack up and head home to Autumn, to prepare for the cooler months.

I'm hopeful we'll squeeze one more camping trip in before it gets too cold, but determined to continue our adventuring throughout the year regardless. It's inspiring our weekdays, moving us forward, helping us connect with nature and each other…

Reminding us why we live here. Why we love it.

Do come visit, won't you? xx

15 March 2014

Whole30 :: Half Way


Huz and I have been undertaking a little experiment. In need of a little clean-up and with a whole bunch of niggles and aches and suspicions, we did some reading… Then after a couple of friends tried Whole30 and reported fabulousness, we were fairly convinced.

Here's what I've noticed: We've been eating rainbows! So much more care is going into what we eat. It's clean and nourishing and full of love. Also, my essential tremor has reduced significantly. WOW. This is in line with what I've read about Mediterranean type diets, ketogenic diets and grain-free diets having good effect. But I didn't expect it to actually work so quickly, especially after it had worsened so much in recent months. I couldn't chop veggies and I kept dropping things lots. With sleep, now it's not so bad. I'll be interested to see what happens when I get back on to fat blacks with butter… about the only way I can drink coffee these days and brain healing too. Here's what else. I've noticed: Clearer skin and energy returning after a couple of weeks of ugh and muscle aches and headaches and withdrawal symptoms. My sinuses are clearing up in a huge way. And woah, there's stuff happening in my tummy. A good dose of gut healing, which is why we did this in the first place.

Here's what Huz has noticed: Intestinal weirdiness. The good sort. Much less of the worrying bad sort that he had before. And fatigue. And rather hilarious cravings and food associations. He's looking forward to those shifting.

So what happens next is we continue to nurture our bodies through a couple more grain, dairy, sugar and legume free weeks. Then beyond that, slowly and steadily, we reintroduce what we've been missing. I'm thinking butter and maybe yoghurt for me, to begin with. I'm excited to figure out what really doesn't work for me (although I've always had a hunch), and let it go. To just be mindful about  the foods that feed and nourish me without making me feel bad in any way. And move on to a much healthier, more wholesome, less shakey and great feeling future.

How are you feeling? 
Eat any rainbows lately? xx

10 March 2014

Tiny's Bedtime Basket

Tiny selfies #hilariousowlet #phonethief #loveher

Here's the thing about Tiny Owlet. Tiny is fierce and loving and so very funny. And she is busy! Always doing something and she loves to be in on whatever anyone else is doing. She's active and playful and she doesn't miss a trick. But she doesn't know how to switch off without a fight.  She'll tell you she's tired, but she'll resist any attempts to help that transition to bed happen. She wants to run to bed covered in paint or tomato sauce, in the nude, and breastfeed until she falls asleep, however long that may take. Which is perfectly fine, except it's MY bed she's sleeping in and it's ME that gets covered in tomato sauce. And I'm not too keen on that. She wants a book too, but not the one I've chosen. Or the one she's chosen. And she will not ever, never brush her teeth. And we neeeeed her to brush her teeth. Tiny is very three. 

In thinking a little about three year olds and remembering what they like, I've returned to rhythm and ritual to help smooth gentle transitions. I'm remembering the time we spent reading story after story each night with Big Owlet and how Little Owlet still won't go to sleep unless I say "sweet dreams". Like her sisters,  there is a time each day when bed suits Tiny best, she just needs a little help and a few cues to remember how to do it. I'm also watching her energy levels and how to keep her balanced so our evenings are calm and peaceful... 

These two were wild and wooly with each other all day. So I took them for a windy evening walk to pick flowers and blackberries and blow the wild woolliness away #wildthings #owlets

On evenings where she's still not tired (perhaps we've had a quiet day at home), we go for a walk before bed. 

A long bath with Tiny after dinner, with relaxing oils and salts, means super early, easy and happy bedtime #nurture #tiny #bonding #loveher #sweetdreams

On evenings where she's a bit rough and ragged and shouty and overtired, we have a long, quiet bath together. Some one-on-one time to stop and slow right down and talk and sing and whisper and cuddle… With soothing oils and epsom salts and rose petals and all the fixings for a peaceful night.

Tiny's bedtime basket #gentletransitions  #bedtime #nurture #three

Here's the thing about three year olds. They like to be involved in the job. In charge. And they like gear. Kits go a long way when you are three. So, to help smooth Tiny's transition to bed, we have her bedtime basket. She started it. One evening, she shouted at me that it was bedtime and headed down the hallway with a basket full of books. The next night, I grabbed the basket and suggested we fill it together. She chose some books and the water/oil hourglass thing that she's taken to staring at. The next night, I presented her the basket with pyjamas in it. Right now it looks like the basket you see above. In the basket are: 
  • Pyjamas
  • Tiny's hourglass toy
  • A little friend to keep her company while she brushes her teeth
  • Books - sometimes I choose them, sometimes she helps
So we go to the basket, put on pyjamas, take the little friend to the bathroom and brush her teeth, hop into bed, look at the hourglass thing, read a book and zonk out. And there's not a scream or a shout or anger or frustration. Just calm. And quiet. And a sense of getting the job done and an all-over sense of peaceful relief (from both of us), when she snuggles down finally, happily to snooze. 

It's either a late nap or early bedtime. This week has been huge in the life of Tiny #bless #coop #tuckeredout #loveher #tinyowlet #hopingbedtime #nofilter

Sweet dreams, Tiny. xx

Do you have any bedtime routines in your home?
Does no routine at all suit you better?
What does bedtime look like in your nest? xx

9 March 2014

Weekend Adventurers :: The Styx Forest & Mt Field

Styx river #sundaywandering #instatassie

One lazy Saturday morning, lolling around our much loved and lived in nest, we decided it was time to do something. Not the usual trip to the shops or the market, but an adventure. So we packed a thermos and some sandwiches and bundled the owlets into the car and headed north for the day.

We wanted to see big trees.

One of the worlds tallest flowering plants (over 85m!), this is a mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) that we visited in the Styx Forest yesterday - I gave this behemoth a big hug by way of thanks for casting out oxygen for the last 400 years. Nice work, na

We've lived in Tasmania for over 8 years now and I'm not sure that we've ever visited the Styx forest before. It lies north of Hobart and just outside the Mt Field National Park and is home to some of the tallest trees on earth. Giant swamp gums standing 85m high. It also incorporates some of the forest that was recently included in the extension to the World Heritage Area. The bit that the government would like to return to logging. The area we visited is State forest and is currently harvested, although The Big Tree and the Bigger Tree themselves are protected.

Tiny's-eye view of her parents, dwarfed by the #bigtree #forest #tasmania #noedit

So, on a whim, we popped out to spend some time with the trees and find out why they are worth looking after. And not just the trees, of course, but the whole forest around them too.

Forest floor #moss #faerieslivehere #tasmania #instatassie
Thallose liverwort, in the Styx Forest edging Tassie's Southwest Wilderness World Heritage Area. || An unfiltered photo cuz its so sexy. || #bryology #liverwort #tasmania #australia

 It's all pretty amazing. Full of ferns and moss and dappled light. Full of green and water and birds and leeches! Full of ancient smells and silence... I imagine. I was there with three owlets, so it was hard to tell…

"Look Dad! Tentacles!" || At Styx Big Tree Reserve. || #tasmania #australia
Owlets kicking back and marvelling at the Big Tree (see previous pic). || #styx #tasmania

Afterwards, we were still up for adventure. And as we're in the middle of daylight savings and the days are so long (and Tiny napped earlier), we pressed on to Mt. Field National Park. Huz's favourite place in Tasmania.

Waterfall, forest, mist, rainbow... #perfection #russellfalls #tasmania #instatassie

We had time for a quick visit to Russell Falls as the afternoon sun shone through the trees. What a magical place and a beautiful time of day to visit. Often we're ferrying owlets home by late afternoon, so giving ourselves that extra time to just go slowly and have the experience, regardless of what time it was, was bliss.

Just what this family needed.

A reminder that so many beautiful, vulnerable, wild, amazing places are just on our doorstep. And we really should spend so much more time in them than we have. I feel a new blog series coming on…

Bring on the adventures!

Have you been on any adventures lately? 
Seen any big trees? 

Have a wonderful week. xx

**Photo's in this post are by me, Huz and Tiny!**