Yahoooooooooo!!!! I'll update if I can, otherwise see you in 10 days. xoxoxoxo
We are about to hit the road, Jack....well Jack's not really involved at all but I love a song that gets my fingers clicking.....
Yes, the four of us are going to pile into the Johnny Bravo tomorrow morning, laden with pizza bases for a party, lots of travellin' tunes, our sketchbooks and a big old sense of adventure. Down south is our direction, visiting friends and family is our plan, marvelling at Tutenkhamons treasures in Melbourne is our ultimate destination....We will see new views, meet new people, reconnect with each other and have some gooooodtimes. Well, thats the plan anyway!
Yahoooooooooo!!!! I'll update if I can, otherwise see you in 10 days. xoxoxoxo
The last two days have been the first two days of the school holidays - and life hasn't changed at all!! It is a whole new experience of 'flow' when the distinction between work and play, life and learning gets increasingly blurred....
The Satyananda Yoga ashram around the corner from us holds 'family yoga' weeks during most school holidays. We have contributed percussion, bush tucker and art workshops in the past and monday was the day for another bush tucker and bush medicine walk and talk.
Flex was the main presenter, confidently and passionately telling everyone about quandongs, blood tree sap, Davidson plums, gymea lilies, and native sarsparilla. We then went for a walk to wash our hands with Sydney Golden Wattle leaves (or 'saopy' wattle as we call it), and collect bracken fern and dianella leaves to make our 'bush sunglasses' with.
The bush sunnies were a hit, bringing shade, insect repellant and of course huge smiles to most faces!! We all enjoyed passing on this valuable and fun indigenous knowledge, hanging out with lovely like minded people and as always, spending time at the ashram (which has become a bit of a home away from home). In fact, even though Flex wanted to go back to the farm due to a sore foot, Lucky chose to stay and help with the new art/play space at the ashram all afternoon, making friends and enjoying the serenity.
Tuesday morning was our own private 'masterclass' with trained chef John, who heads up the kitchen at the ashram. He arrived having never really worked with kids before and was sooooo fabulous - patient, inclusive, relaxed and encouraging experimentation all the way. It just goes to show - great teachers are EVERYWHERE when you unschool!
We learnt how to make sourdough pizza crust and ciabatta loaves (with 20 year old starter which we have been left with - gulp - it's like having a new pet which needs feeding, warmth and love), potato gnocchi, tomato pizza sauce and simple pasta sauce.
It was so much fun - watching the dough rise, the starter come to life, hearing laughter and conversation, learning skills and making a new friend. Ann and Spencer came over just in time to help with the finishing touches and share in the feast which resulted - which was absolutely delish!!!
Thank you so much for your time John. You are a true food and kid whisperer!
So after we had cleaned up the kitchen for the 8 millionth time that day, the kids ran out for a play in the paddock. They were soon treated to what must surely be one of the ultimate experiences in life - a handmade feast of fresh, tasty teeny tiny pizzas and homemade citrus and pieapple sage flower cordial - to be consumed UNDER the trampoline.
This is the stuff real life is made of ladies and gentlemen....now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to tuck in my sourdough starter and sing it a lullaby....
This story is about following instructions - but then improving on them.....
Here we are, making a volcano on a rainy day. Lucky got a science kit for his birthday which as a matter of fact, was a really sunny day! :(
The experiment involved mixing some ingredients (which are very secret), adding some more ingredients (which are also secret) and BOOM!!!! Multicoloured fun! Originally, the kit said to do the experiment on a plate but we took it a step further and decided to use a plastic volcano which Flex got for his birthday (which as a matter of fact, was sunny as well).
Look how cool it is to think outside the box!
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Today it has been pouring - cats and dogs, puddles and waterfalls. The markets were on and a bunch of us braved the weather in order to keep the show going... Adam our lovely wwoofer, a local school teacher, a few CWA ladies, Lucky and I all created a beautiful art work - gyamea lily collage out of ripped up magazines. It was a chilly, grey and very mellow market day!
I have been reminded lately of the importance of family, in whatever that means to you. it was my uncle's funeral on friday and I spent time with cousins I don't often see. They had lost their father and although he lived a fabulous life, there was a sense of wishing we had appreciated him more while he was alive. Not regret, just a clear remembering of the fragility and preciousness of life. It set me on a course of thinking about my loved ones and how authentic (or inauthentic) I am with them. Authenticity is a high priority for me at the moment, and I find sometimes I tell people how I see it at the expense of their feelings. I value transparency. I value honesty. I also value respect and compassion and sometimes it is challenging to marry both sets of values.
So, my goal is to stay clear enough to recognise when it is right to step back, listen and keep quiet, or when the best thing to do is to speak my truth loud and proud. Wish me luck.....
It's time to introduce you to the fabulous world of 'Keep It Simple Spencer' (KISS) otherwise affectionately known as the 'Jam N Pickle Club'. This is one of my favourite things in life at the moment - a bunch of ladies (and my boys) get together to make delicious preserves out of local windfall produce, share stories, swap skills and enjoy each others company.
We have been meeting monthly for about a year and have made BUCKET LOADS of great jams, pickles, chutneys, cordials, sauces and all manner of food in jars!
We recently applied to the council for a grant and got it - so the jam n pickle club is on it's way to a whole new level....I hope it doesn't change too much - it is lovely and simple now, and as the name states, that's how we want to keep it.
This monday we decided to try a seed swapping table and it was a veritable treasure trove of wonders! We had quandong (native peach) seeds from up north, all sort of fruit and vegie seeds collected from people's gardens, cuttings, seedlings and excess produce for sale or swap. A fantastic way of getting tried and true local stuff to plant in the garden.
We then moved onto the seriously fun job of jam tasting and creating. Flex learned how to make lemon butter at one of the first jam n pickle days, and is now the 'Lord of the Lemons'. He deftly cut a bagful of lemons, juiced them (with a little help from mum because his cut finger was protesting against the acidic citrus), measured out the right amount of juice, melted butter and eggs, mixed and cooked the delicious golden yellow concoction and poured it into sterilised jars ready to be sold at the market. His jam mentor J is very proud!
Have I mentioned how much I love this gang of groovy grandmas? This pack of pot stirrers? It is a warm haven of sweet smelling, jewel coloured preserved slices of life. They embrace having our two home schooled boys and their mates around, taking any opportunity to include them in the activities. The idea is old fashioned and fun and real and as relevant as anything I have ever been a part of. Every town needs a Jam N Pickle Club!
Well, I have started to experience for the very first time....blog anxiety! Our computer has been super slow the last few days, we have been at the end of our 'quota' of internet availability, so using the computer for anything other than the ultra important jobs of checking emails and playing minecraft (!!), has been a no go.
And we have been doing soooooooo much cool stuff - I am DYING to write about it and post photos - but I can't! And it's driving me bonkers!
No, it's actually a good reminder that sometimes you can be far too busy living life to spend time recording it.
Deep breathe, smile, exhale. Repeat.
I promise, I will catch up soon. In the meantime, here's a little teaser:
This is the story of a dinosaur egg and how it came to be a feature of one of the coolest 7th birthday parties EVER!
It all started with Lucky's wish to have a pinata for his party. Now I must say, a couple of days ago I had started writing this post and detailing the entire process of pinata creation, when my computer had a spazz and all was lost. Needless to say what I wrote was witty, informative and quite brilliant but alas, I have moved on and will not be repeating it. (If anyone really wants to know how we made it, leave a comment and I will email details...)
Anyhoo, here are some pics of the dinosaur egg in metamorphosis:
It was so much fun to make; messy and gooey and extremely satisfying in it's roundness. And on the day of the party it ended up transforming magically into my head!! Check it out!
Now onto the party....well it featured motorbikes (thank you sooo much K and S - you guys ROCK!!!!!), trampolining, swimming and surfing in the river, egg and spoon races, a jellybean guessing competition, badmington, horse rides, a rainbow 'minecraft' shaped cake, fortune cookies, the aforementioned pinatas and of course new and old friends and all the joy they bring.
Just to illustrate how unschooling works, here are some of the 'learning' opportunities at a birthday party;
maths, estimation and comparisons - guessing comp, organising even teams for egg and spoon races
writing - guessing comp
art/writing - hand made birthday cards (soooooo beautiful!), decorating lolly bags
craft - making pinata
pdh/pe - all day long!
science - noticing weather changes, working out where the wind is coming from in order to light the sparkler, understanding dehydration (it was HOT!), exploring nature and animals
socialization - duh!!!
The kids were amazing - organising games, waiting turns, sharing toys and equipment. They could join in as much as they wanted but were free to sit and watch as well. No argy bargy (well none I was privvy to anyway!)
It was wonderful to have people from the home school group, our last two schools, long time friends and our neighbourhood all together. It really reminded me of the ability we have to create community.
And most importantly, at the end of the day, Lucky looked up at me and said "This has been the best day of my life". Sigh.
Thanks all for your contributions and friendship, and I'll sign off now and leave you to look at some pics....xoxoxo
Is there anything more bewitching than watching creatures of the sea frolic and feed in front of your eyes?
Well maybe, but right now I can't think of it. Because I am under the spell of the aquamarine after a day at the Darling Harbour Aquarium and Wildlife World.
We met up with some great homeschooling friends for our 'excursion' and were dodging the school groups all day! It was pretty easy actually, we just waited for them to be herded through and then took our time looking at the amazing wonders of the natural world....
I took way too many photos as usual, but there's just something about that blueness and the ripples of light and the beauty of the creatures....the kids were all entranced as well and my heart sang as I watch a group of them, from 4 to 15 years old, both sexes, swapping facts about underwater life and sharing their learning.
Seeing as we get such a great discount as registered 'schools', we decided to do the Wildlife World as well. This place tries hard to create a lovely atmosphere and environment for the animals, but perhaps I was getting a bit sad seeing so many animals in the middle of the city.....it was quite a surreal juxtaposition and I found myself frowning at people who would tap the glass trying to make the snakes react or 'wake up'. People, they are SLEEPING! Have some respect!But I have to admit the crocodile was VERY impressive and after hearing his story I can appreciate why he now lives a life of sunbaking and chicken eating in Sydney....this monumental reptile (emphasis on the mental), had been eating people's dogs up in far north queensland and was in danger of being hunted and killed. So he was caught and moved to a farm, where due to his studly good looks was to be used as a breeding male. Well, he had other ideas. Both female crocodiles he was paired up with didn't fare so well. He ATE them. Nom nom nom! He was so big I seriously thought he was fake.
The boys got to pat a sugarglider, feed a rainbow lorrikeet (Flex actually scored a poo on the shoulder as well), act like a kangaroo and most importantly enjoy the day with their friends and family. We took home a new didjeridu, lots of photos and some smile inducing memories. Thanks to the R family and the animals for sacrificing their freedom so that we humans can learn more about the world we live in.....
"For he's a jolly marshmallow and sausages on the bus!"
Well, my 'baby' is now 7 years old....and what a fantastic person he is! Here's how his day went...
We got to really surprise him with cake in bed, because he really loves to sleep in.....when he got his presents he set them down and opened each one so carefully - unsticking every bit of sticky tape, unfolding paper with precision and grace, delighting in every gift, exploring it and discussing it's merits before moving onto the next - excruciatingly gorgeous!!! And such a different creature from Flex who devours gifts with passion and frenzied delight....ripping and shredding....
It was a delightful day, just like the boy who was born 7 years ago in the bath at Randwick Women's Hospital birthing centre after an 1.5 hour labour. Not so slow and easy then huh!!!
We ate lemon and passionfruit tart with double cream for breakfast (a great family tradition - thanks mum!!) and then were off to the playground with Mormor and Opa for some serious ripsticking with the new red (goes faster!) ripstick. Then it was surfboard shopping with money from auntie and grandparents.
He chose an excellent little foamie board and even put the fins on himself. He is hanging out to hang ten, man. This kid has all the makings of a soul surfer for sure...
After this we went and met up with Lucky's best mates from pre-school and had a big fat play down at the glorious Narrabeen lake. I love the way kids can go for a year without seeing a friend and within 5 minutes be inventing airports, eating bubbles and wrestling with each other....
Prior to meeting the friends, we had gone for a roll along the path next to the lake and happened upon the spot wher they hire out kayaks and paddleboats. Well wether it was birthday confidence or just a beautiful trust in adults, after asking me if they could go out on a paddleboat and me having given them the old 'didn't bring my wallet and have no money in it anyway' line - sad but true - Lucky asked the guy behind the counter if there were any ' birthday discounts'. Well, this picture gives you the answer!
It makes my heart smile to think about the kindness that was shown by that paddleboat hirer guy. He happily set the boys up with lifejackets, launched them into the water and then shyly shook his head when I asked how much....People can be so generous and this kind of generosity can really make someone's day. 'People Are Strange' sang Jim Morrison and people are awesome said I.
We finished up with a pizza party back at the shop with Grandma and Pop (there's a song line there I just know it), with lemonade, laughter and lots and lots of love. Happy Birthday my darling boy. I enjoy every moment of your growing and savour the fact that you are part of my life. We are so lucky to have a Lucky!!!
Well this was the week of spontaneous decisions and the magic they can bring....We decided just a matter of days ago to go on a trip to the Snowy Mountains, and stay with a bunch of home schoolers that we had never met before. Like, none of them! Out of the comfort zone a little.....
So, monday morning at 6am (sooooo not my usual time), armed with some new music and pillows, snowboard and beanies, we were OFF in the Johnny Bravo, hurtling down the highway....we loooooove road trips as you can see!
We listened to They Might be Giants "Here Comes Science", Washington, TMBG, Tim Minchin, TMBG, Powderfinger and They might Be Giants. Again.
I think this is our new favourite band! They are AWESOME! This CD is all about science - the elements, the sun and planets, the colour spectrum (Roy. B. Giv!!!)etc etc all wrapped up in funky-ass melodies, riffs and beats, great vocals, lyrics that kids enjoy and that aren't condascending!!!!! Seriously, we played it about 30 times and I still like it!!! Here is a little taste:
Yeah! Science and roadtrips people!!
Anyway, we got to Jindabyne and found our apartment, met everyone (can you believe there were 10 kids - ALL BOYS!! - something in the water...), hired our skis and settled in for a few days of frosty fun. Everyone we stayed with were part of the home schooling community and just lovely people. The lady who organised the whole thing had done an incredible job of buying food, planning meals, allocating rooms (!) and really making us newbies feel comfortable. Such 'can do' and capable people and great kids!
The first day looked dubious weather wise, so we packed the car up and headed up to Thredbo....with our swimming costumes. Yep, it was pouring up there so we spent a fabulous day at the Thredbo Leisure Centre swimming, climbing on the rock wall, using all the gym equipment, jumping like gazelles and playing with LOTS of balls;)
Oh the joy of having a bunch of cool stuff, in a huge space and no time limits!
Anyway the rain meant that it snowed that night!!!! So, the next day we went up to Charlottes Pass with some new friends and there was fresh snow!! Snowboarder Nirvana!!! No lift lines, blue skies, spring weather - a pretty perfect day actually.
Tired, stoked and hungry we enjoyed our final night of lasagne and X Factor with our newfound friends. And I am so glad we took a chance to stay with 'strangers'. It reminded me of a very important thing - strangers are just friends you haven't met yet!
And no matter what your circumstance or situation, if you really want to home educate, you will find a way to make it happen. I met two women (single mothers) who really proved that. Kudos to you.
The next morning, after a brief debacle of locking the keys in the car (but being an unschooler every moment is a learning opportunity - my 6 and 8 year olds now know how to break into a car :) - thanks NRMA guy!), we were waving farewell to fair Jindabyne and heading towards Canberra and....QUESTACON!!!
This place is the definition of funschooling! Interactive, informative, experiential science that made you wonder, touch, laugh, learn and play! We did a freefall experiencing zero gravity, we played with water currents, made a hydrogen rocket go off, saw 'real' lightning up close, felt an earthquake, went on a virtual rollercoaster, tried out a guillotine, did puzzles, made art and had fun aaaaaaaallllllllllll the while. I commented to Gav when we got home ;
"You could hang out at Questacon for a day and learn more science than in a year at school."
And now we are home. Only for one night before heading down to the Northern Beaches for 3 days....Lucky's birthday, the aquarium, a live music gig....the livin', learnin' and lovin' never stops!!!
Yomamma - masseuse, home school mum, art lover, jam maker, intrepid explorer.