Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to Life

Willow had her final opera performance Saturday, so we are settling back into our normal life here this week. Gabriel, Damien and I attended the opera on Saturday and had a fabulous time. It was amazing seeing Willow up infront of so many people, and so calm and centred throughout it. The story was lovely, and all the children did an amazing job.

This week we've been back to our normal school routine which has been nice. Willow is doing some national geography and history. Gabriel is doing some more maths, going over things we've already covered, as well as looking at money, and decimals in relation to money.

Story wise we're reading 'Playing Beatie Bow', which gives a good outlook on what Sydney was like in the 1800's.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Performance Time

Well Willow had her first Hansel and Gretel performance last night. She had a fabulous time, and has been enjoying the whole process. Over time the rehearsals have moved from the Opera centre at Netley, to the Grainger studios and finally at the Adelaide Festival theatre. Willow's part is in the choir at the end of the opera, and she is one of the Ballerinas. Last night she brought home the opera booklet, and it was quite exciting to see her name there in the list of children in the choir. Anyhow for the last 6weeks or so this has kept us very busy, so it's nice to have it coming to an end, though Willow is keen to do more of this sort of stuff.

Otherwise we've been discussing fertility, doing gardening around here and celebrating a blended Beltane/Halloween. It's a bit tricky to be totally seasonal in our Celebrations here, when the non-Seasonal event is pushed so strongly here.

I've also booked Willow and Gabriel in for a bow making course next year, sounds fabulous. There are so many interesting things being planned in the local homeschool community at present. I'm organising a group in the Fringe Parade again, someone's organising a night at the zoo, then there's a chance to go to see Wicked at the theatre.

We finally went to see the pandas at the Zoo on Thursday. We were having a house inspection, so decided to go out. The Zoo certainly is becoming a nicer place for animals though I'm not very keen on it, overall. The pandas were very cute. We also saw some of the animals being fed-the sealions, the penguins, and the otters. The otters were very funny- squawking at their zookeeper to hurry up with their dinner.

Botany Block Work

Sketches from Nature walks

The Soil

Monocot and Dicot picture

Leaf Diagram

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I am Reading and Have been Reading

Well in my usual style I'm reading too many books at once! Somehow in recent years, I've found reading a few books at once very effective for learning more than one thing at once.

Ishmael- Daniel Quinn
This one I have finished- and I would not recommend it at all, except for a section that discuss the bible, and the idea that the story of the fall of Adam was written from the perspective of outsiders viewing it occurring- and that in their view man heading towards an agricultural based existence was a negative thing. The suggestion in the book was that it was written by the Semites.

Living Dolls
I also read this recently. Disturbing and fascinating. I am glad to live a life without the media. But also the more I read things like this, the more I think feminism needs to become a new movement of equality. Where men are embraced and encouraged to be part of a greater change that sees genders treated equally and fairly.

September Holidays and Events

Well Spring is truly here, and this time the rain seems to be staying for a bit- which is nice. We've put our strawberries in our front yard this year, and they are much happier. Our back area seems to do ok during winter, but doesn't get enough sunlight during the summer. Plus with the strawberries out the front, our bulbs all up, and some extra herbs in the garden, it's starting to feel much cosier. And just for Arden, we put in a little path that loops around the bench!

Over the last month, many things have happened- the most uninteresting bit, was that I was sick last week. And one of the best bits, was that I now have a solution to giving Arden cod liver oil. I bought some of the gummy fish, which he likes, and also the butter oil with CLO, which he also likes- but loves with a bit of honey. So it's nice to have that sorted out.

We also went away-down south east. We visited friends in Kalangadoo, family near Mt Gambier, and friend and family in Melbourne. Along the way we drove along the Great Ocean Rd, which was stunning! and visited the National Gallery of Victoria to see the European Masters Exhibition. Sadly it all ended a bit too soon, we were hoping to see some of Ballarat, but Willow got a part in the state opera's Hansel and Gretel, so we had to leave Ballarat very early for her to get to her rehearsal.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What I'm Reading

No Logo- Naomi Klein

Very interesting, but slightly depressing- at least so far. Initially I felt that I should go through all our clothes and cut the labels off!

I have recovered since, and left them all alone. At least there is very little in our house where we are directly 'branded'.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spring is in the Air

What a lovely wet winter we've had. Even this morning, before a pleasantly mild and sunny day, there was plenty of rain. We planted some strawberries in the front garden last week, and they are looking as they're settling in well. And we're starting to have lots of lovely flowers appear amongst our bulbs.

We're also onto some new blocks. Gabriel has been doing some work on fabrics- with a bit of fabric dying happening. Willow is onto botany. So yesterday we headed out for a walk in our local neighbourhood to do some sketching. I was hoping to see some fungi, but there aren't many around here at the moment. Hopefully we'll see some to sketch before the end of the block.

And we've also moved onto some new crafts- Willow is doing her second sock. She did the first one last year, and it came out beautifully. Gabriel is now learning to crochet. Just starting simply for now, lots of chains, linking in to make loops.

And below is Willow's handsewing project that she's just finished.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jam Factory and finished work

Last week we headed to the open day of the Jam Factory and had a fabulous time. We were there for most the day, looking round, trying crafts and exploring the place. We arrived fairly early and had a try at the glass blowing whilst it was quiet, and then went to watch some artists blowing glasses for a while whilst Willow, Gabriel and Arden had their faces painted.

Their was also the opportunity to try pottery and using the pottery wheel. So Willow and Gabriel also tried that out. And we got to look around and see some jewellery making, wood being steamed and bent, and then return to the glass blowing to have another go. I must admit the glass blowing was lots of fun, and I would like to try it again.

Meanwhile we all finished our baskets.

Willow's basket

Gabriel's Basket

And mine- think maybe I should put it in a tree as a bird's nest!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lastest Work

So we've been busy with some more craft.

Here's Willow's and Gabriel's marionettes.

Willow's Emerald in progress.

Gabriel's King Golden in progress.

And Gabriel's King Golden finished.

Finally today we've been doing some basket making. We walked over to the park at the top of O'Connell St, and collected some pine needles, then we soaked them for an hour, and finally we got into our making.

Here's today's results.

Willow's basket.

My basket.

And Gabriel's basket.

Hopefully we'll get them all finished tomorrow.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

John Taylor Gatto

I've just started reading the history of American Education.
It's very interesting and as usual John Taylor Gatto, argues some excellent points on why traditional schooling is failing, and more particularly why it was meant to fail.

A homeschool friend recently also forwarded to me an article by John Taylor Gatto, which included this excerpt.
One afternoon when I was
seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the
head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence
again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The
obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and
people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if
possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of
boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to
pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part,
however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that
boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the
classroom. Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to
help kids break out of this trap.

I wouldn't have quite worded my thoughts of boredom in that manner, but something in the idea of boredom being an inappropriate behaviour makes sense. When we lived in Scotland the kids never said they were bored, it was not in their mentality. Then when we arrived back in Adelaide, quite a few people we knew started making comments about stuff being boring for them. I found that totally bizarre- why encourage the notion of boredom? So we decided to ban the word 'bored' from our house- on the basis that anyone who is bored, must actually be an uninteresting person, who is unable to entertain themselves and find their own interests. Generally speaking no-one even thinks about the idea anymore, fortunately.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Well today I finally finished knitting my socks.

They are warm and comfy and my favourite pair already I think. And now next I need to do a pair for my brother, Justin.

Also I finishen my marionette this week.

I am also pretty happy with her. And Arden has fallen in love with her- so I think I may need to make him his own doll soon. We called my doll Ruby, due to the colour of her hair. Arden has been giving her lots of hugs and kisses, and spending time tucking her into bed and clipping her in the pram. Willow and Gabriel have also started their marionettes. Both have done the heads, and are onto the gowns- Willow has already decided to name hers Emerald. Gabriel, meanwhile, hasn't decided if his is a boy or girl.

As Willow pointed out, we also went to the woodwork expo yesterday. Very good value and very interesting- I'll soon be getting a lovely simple woodwork book from one of the stalls there. It's called Woodwork for Women but it's just really for anyone that knows very little about woodwork. We also watched quite a bit of woodturning.

We'll be starting Willow's Egyptian block this week- should be fun and interesting, and continuing on Gabriel's bible block.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Just came back from a Woodwork show! We saw some people make Honey-Dippers. We tried to make Mum make one,but she didn't want to! oh well. There was also a another person making spoons!! after that we watched someone else make spinning tops! when he finished, it was beautiful! after that he made a spinning top Ballerina! Its the BEST! He makes them look GORGEOUS! I rate him 5 out of 5!

After that, we watched a lady called Pat,show us how to make a table and use a battery powered drill! Bit dull at first! I rate her 4 out of 5!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why I Waldorf Homeschool and Don't Natural Learn

I have been pondering the topic of natural learning.

My local homeschooling community here seem to be enamoured by it. And I'm fine with that, in many ways natural learning appeals to me. But what was disconcerting, IMO, on first stepping into the local homeschool community was how many of the mothers went on about how they did nothing- as they were natural learners. Doing nothing has never appealed to me, so their excitement put me off. Why would I stay at home with my kids, to do nothing?

After that I read a John Holt book- 'How Children Learn' and I got the idea. It did appeal- but not in the way that I wanted to embrace it over everything. Also I didn't understand how these parents thought he meant to do nothing- I interpreted it as being an instigator in enabling my children to learn the things that they are interested in.

And so I've been talking to someone about it again, yesterday. She seemed very interested in it- but funnily when she was talking about wishing she'd learnt music when she was younger, she seemed like she couldn't do it now. And yet to me that's the perfect way to show natural learning to one's kids. She wants to know how to do it- she finds resources to do it. And indirectly, through her learning, she teaches her children how to natural learn.

And so I do Waldorf homeschool, and we natural learn all the time. Through doing Waldorf I expose them to things beyond myself or themselves that possibly we would never have examined. And I love that. My natural learning is the Waldorf thing. Gabriel's natural learning recently has been looking at Atlantis, because he found it interesting after a school block of Willow's. Willow loves making things (which is easier due to our craft sessions). But then my goal is not to encourage my children to be natural learners, mine is to have children that find the world an interesting and amazing place- and can be interested in anything.

And so I don't embrace natural learning as my mode of education. It's great to choose to learn what you want- but sometimes one has to learn and do things one doesn't want to. And sometimes those things are interesting, I find that usually they are. But then I must wonder, is it my view of the world that is different to the parents that embrace this? Particularly those who embrace it in the 'I can do nothing' kind of way. I loved primary school. I loved wondering what exciting things the teacher would reveal to me each day. It was high school that destroyed my passion, and homeschooling that returned it.

I think perhaps some of these parents need to find their passion and show their children how they find it- and maybe then their children will know how to love learning.

Recently (2015) I've been reconsidering my views on this, and why I still feel a balanced approach is best for our family.  Here's a link to the page "More thoughts on Natural Learning".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kalangadoo Organic!

Hello There!
At the beginning of of summer, I started helping out at the Wayville Farmers Market. I was helping out Kalangadoo Organic, they sell Apples and Apple Juice. They got me a top with there logo on it, and gave me free Apples and Apple Juice as a pay! Wow! What an a MAZING day it was!!
Cya Later!

Rain, today and Books

Well it's been a nice stay indoors kind of day today, and since we had no plans that is what we did. I managed to get through a few things that had been waiting for me- phone calls and craft activities.

Willow and Gabriel spent some time on Scratch. We has some russian custard with lunch - very tasty and healthy too! Egg yolks and honey beaten til they are thick and almost white.

Here's the start of my marionette.

And here's my (finally) finished Christmas stocking for Arden.

And I've been reading some interesting maths history, recently in the evenings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marionettes and Buses

I'm currently attempting to make a marionette doll so I can help Willow and Gabriel make one in the coming weeks. So far I've done very little other than tie my ropes together, and then wonder if I have enough fabric for the head- and then discover that yes I do. So that's good. We all picked some lovely silk out for it's gown, so now I just hope that I can follow Mrs Marsha's instructions ok! I've found all of her other files, incredibly helpful, so I'm sure it will work out fine.

Over the weekend our local community free bus/ tindo drivers decided to have a community party. We had a great time. We've all gotten to know most of the bus drivers reasonably well over the last 18months, and the kids have particularly befriended two of them- John and Barry. John organised the party at Marcellinas, and Barry had kindly copied of some movies and music for the kids. Willow is now in Beatle heaven- in the last few months, she has become totally Beatles mad. Anyhow Willow briefly performed at the party, a couple of Suzuki tracks and one fiddle song that she's been learning with Damien. She did really well. Then the rest of our family also seemed to do well- Damien got a who am I? question right, and also won the Millionaire's Challenge, and Gabriel and Damien won the make a dog out of balloons contest. It was a great night- and lovely to head out to a local community event where we were all a bit connected.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ancient Egypt

One of our next blocks, for Willow, is going to be Ancient Egypt, and so I decided that we would visit the museum today, and have a look at the exhibit there. Last time I went to look at the Egyptian exhibit, I was nine. The whole thing upset me immensely- people wrapped in cloth, etc, and I left crying.

Fortunately no-one did that today. Everyone thought the mummification was weird. But once they got over that, just enjoyed looking around at the artefacts. The details about the Rosetta stone was interesting, and both Willow and Gabriel enjoyed it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


We are having our winter holiday break, and although it's only our second day I feel very pleased. The term has been busy and full of interesting occurrences. Plus, unusually this year, it really feels like winter. I think it's the first time it's felt wintery since we've been back from living in Scotland. Certainly other years it has been cold- but often not in the wintery kind of way, where it's cold at night as well as during the day. More in the Spring time kind of way, cold at night and gloriously sunny and mild during the day.

We went out for a walk to the shops on Wednesday, when it was rainy, it was great fun getting out in the wet. And there was an amazing hail storm, that gushed in. Plus we found a blue tongue lizard stuck in the gutter unable to move. I picked it up, and relocated him to a garden nearby. He was quite lucky- we moved just as the rain and hail storm came, I am sure he would have drowned otherwise.

I have to see about show entries this week. Willow and Gabriel have a few plans, but we may need to review them- depending on timing. Mostly I am not sure if Willow's socks will be able to be entered. One is done, but I am wondering if the other one can be completed in time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Latest Reads

For our afternoon story we are reading The Celtic Dragon.

So far everyone loves it. And I must say I quite enjoy reading it out loud, it had a nice rhythm to the story, and frequently uses alliteration.

I've also been reading Lucy Cavendish's book on Atlantis, Lemuria and Avalon. Interesting, and certainly something to contemplate.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice!

We have had a lovely Winter Solstice day here. Busy with friends, and violin lessons, and celebrating and craft.

Last week for our form drawing, we made up star lanterns. A little complex to make, but simple once you get the folding. These were done in preparation for using tonight.

Then over the course of the day, we had one of Arden's little friends around, with her mum. A lot of lego building- the kids have seen a competition for lego. A violin lesson for Willow.
And finally our solstice dinner.

We put out our candles, with our yule log- which we haven't burnt as yet, but placed as a focal point in the table symbolically. We had a pleasant meal by candlelight. And we took some beeswax candles and decorated them with pressed flowers, from last spring.

Folded Candle Holders

And with light!

Before the Yule Log

With the Log

It was a very simple and pleasant evening.

Happy solstice where ever you are!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Out and About

We've now had a few interesting outings in our van. Though it's reliability is variable- we've discovered that the battery doesn't always keep charge. Currently we're working out why- it appears that whilst the car is off, the CD player and clock are still on using power. Also we think the remote key may be part of the problem- both it, and the CD player were added later.

Otherwise we've gotten down to Victor Harbour, which was great...we walked across and then took the horse tram back. It was a bit of a windy day, and it would be great to go back in time to see the fairy penguins one night.

Then last weekend Willow went to Burra with some friends, so the rest of us went off through the hills, with our plan to get to Birdwood, as a final destination. We went via Lobethal, and found Camelot on the way.

And I have now seen my first giant thing in Australia- we went past the giant rocking horse at Gumeracha.

And just to finish off....this was a local trip, we went to the Himeji Garden as part of our study in Japan.

It was very beautiful and peaceful.

Class 5

Willow has a very interesting array of themes and topics to study this year.

We've done the first part of her geography block, and examined our state.

And we've done a large chunk of the ancient world. There are so many interesting ancient cultures- it was hard to choose. But in the end I decided that we would briefly look at Atlantis, Mu, Zealandia, the Mayans, and the Jamon culture, but our main focus was on Babylonia, Hatti and Ancient Persia. She put together a beautiful book. And she is also getting very good with her map drawing.

The exposure to varied languages and scripts very much appeals to me within this sort of education. Looking at cunieform and Persian and Chinese, so far this year, and later Greek and Egyptian- just seems to me to bring much richness to a child's education. To have a familiarity with the greater world- and to understand that there is more, than what we here have done, or are doing, seems to me to be an invaluable realisation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Food School

We have had such a busy term, that I have not done much blogging.

Gabriel has been doing food preparation, and maths, and a creation book.

There was much fun and mess!

Making butter using Gabriel's flavour shaker (or should I say Jamie Oliver's?) went down well. As well as our butter in a jar, made with a jar and marble. It was interesting to see that the flavour shaker made butter quite a bit quicker.

Flavour Shaker butter

Marble and Jar butter

Then there was the sauerkraut. Very simple to make- cabbage, caraway seeds and salt. Everybody got into making it. Willow and Arden included. We all sat in the backyard, and bashed and bashed the cabbage with our wooden spoons. It took a while, but eventually we had plenty of juice, and sauerkraut was left to ferment. And after making it once, I often have people offering to help, seems everyone loves to bash a cabbage!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back to School

Wow- we've just had a week's holiday, and finished our first block for the year. There was so many interesting things to do that it would have been nice to spent more time on it. Willow's work was largely around Ancient India and Ancient China. We did loads of creative things relating to the two topics.

Gabriel did lots of star drawing, but in usual style wanted to try out Willow's work too.

Sewing is happening nicely- Willow is doing well on her shirt. And Gabriel and I are doing a great job at making him a kilt out of an old sheet. But really that's our practise run- soon we'll buy some nice kilt fabric and get going on the real one.

For the first time in my life (since leaving home) we have our own car in the driveway. It seems very odd, and looks like we're fitting into Adelaide life, except that we don't drive it much. My brother offered us the car, and I thought it was a good idea, as we've been meaning to do some journeying out of Adelaide. So after changing the registration, we had a cleaning day- my brother lives out bush so it was rather grubby! And decided to go for a drive. Trouble was it was good Friday, and we couldn't really think of anywhere to go. But on the Saturday we went out and had a look at the Farmers Market at Willunga. The Market there was amazing! Particularly the spices. It was a bit of a hike, but well worth the journey.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week 1

We've just started our school work for the year. It's so lovely to start in March rather than Jan/ Feb like the schools, since usually the worst of the heat has left for the year.

We had a lovely start- at present I'm telling some of the stories from the Ramayana and reading the Celtic Wonder Tales. We did a lot of form drawing and modelling, and learnt about the Swastika symbol and its roots in Hinduism, and Hindu's connection to the Aryans.

The craft is looking interesting so far too. Willow is handsewing a shirt, and Gabriel a kilt. We're having a practise run at the kilt, before we select fabric and start properly. I've been trying some handsewing too, so far I've made Gabriel some cords, and am in the process of making myself some pants too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thoughts on Boys and Girls

We've had a bit of a funny week really. Some odd stuff happening at home. And then we caught up with our homeschool group for the first time this year. So Gabriel came back from this last catch up, saying that he had no fun as all the boys are too aggressive. Funnily enough over lunch all the mums sat around nodding their heads about how 'boys are SOOOO different to girls'. I didn't say anything at the time as there was no need, but that has never been my experience.

However when we came home and Gabriel was saying that he had no fun. I felt that I needed to say something. It has opened up the discussion at least, and hopefully it can move to a positive space. My experience is that boys are usually more physical that girls, but that the aggression, is related to the tribal experience of Australians as well as television. It seems that many mothers are unable to address this, and are not able to encourage their boys through any aggression Instead it is just accepted that they have no control over the desire to hit, push, shove, and wrestle. In particular it concerns me that these children are role models to younger children, and that children younger than 7, primarily learn through imitation. Of course these older children have no idea, that they are being emulated, but I think as a society all older people need to be held more accountable for their actions. I suspect that if this happened with all children we'd be living in a much more stable society. I know that, for myself, I had no idea how important my behaviour was in shaping another person until we had my daughter.

What a different world it would be if people realised that the behaviour of each of us matters.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Summer Holidays

So we're still having our Summer break- school has gone back, but in our home, I'm totally anti organised work when there's a possibility of a heat wave. So we're all enjoying hanging out together. And despite the lack of daily planned activities we still seem to be busy!

Over January Willow and Gabriel had swimming lessons down the beach- as we do every summer, and as usual it was lovely. Early morning swim, and hanging out at the beach is very relaxing.

Willow had her 10th birthday- an Alice in Wonderland themed party which she enjoyed immensely. She did lots of the planning and cooking, and all was wonderful. I made a rose syrup heart shaped cake for her. Since Gabriel is currently avoiding grains, the cake was made with nut meal and coconut flour. It was very tasty and looked lovely covered in raspberries.

Plus there was my birthday, and my home made cake this year.

I am currently making my plans for class 5 and 3. Amazing how far we are through! Willow and Gabriel both received pocket knives to learn whittling this year. Both were very pleased to receive we just need to remember to get them engraved. I've been reading we need to really start on greenwood, so am wondering a bit about that...will have to look into what types of woods are best in Australia. All of this is a bit new to me too! Gabriel wants to hand sew a kilt, as his sewing project, which I must admit sounds very challenging. But since he's enthused for the idea, I'm willing to give it a try. And I'm planning to use the bible and the Celtic Wonder Tales as his texts this year.

Finally we'll be in the Fringe Parade again, though this time all of us. I've organised for some of us local homeschoolers to go in it. It's been quite a bit of work, but it's all starting to come together, and all the costumes and the float look fabulous. I think the day is going to be lots of FUN!,

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Hi all,and happy new year!
rite now me and Gabriel have been doing swimming lessens at the Beach,got our- self sun burnt,nearly caught some fish(in a bucket and with our hands).
Gabriel got a loft bed,I got a lamp & a table, and Anya & Damien got a new washing machine (about 4 days ago).
not much more to say,willowunicorn