Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Life in the great outdoors

We've had several beautiful days of sunshine and warm days. Ahh, thank you!

One of the interesting things about being in the park is watching the different campers come and go. When we first got here, there were a lot of retired people from the southern states. Most of them had fairly new campers of a similar style. Now we are seeing more families with campers like ours, some newer, some older. Recently, a huge, American-style 5th wheel was here. Two people were travelling with it. When we had that week of rain, we looked longingly at that rig, with it's 3 slide-outs, and imagined them comfy and cosy in there. But thinking about it now, it would be just like living in a little house. We never saw the people sitting outside of their place, the way people with the smaller campers do. I spend a lot of time either outside (we all do that)or in the annexe where I do our food prep and sometimes I even cook out there in the electric frypan. We have a stove and oven in the camper, but we haven't used them. If we need those things, we go to the camp kitchen which is a fun social event, and it doesn't stink up the camper. When I'm in the annexe, it feels like I'm outside (when all of the windows are rolled up), yet with the basic conveniences of inside. I like it a lot. When we choose our next camper, I want to remember how good it feels to live outside. I'd like something a little more secure, with an easier set-up (not that this is bad, it's just that the newer campers are quicker and easier to set up), and maybe a little bigger for the kids to have their individual space.

The American 5th wheel type campers and motorhomes are a rare sight on the roads here. Partially due to the cost to buy them, and the cost of fuel here and the roads here which are narrower and just not as good as in the US, despite very high taxes.

AJ has been spending a lot of time with the rainbow lorikeets. Now when we get up in the morning, they are often waiting outside our door. And they often come to visit during the day. We offered them wild bird seed but they were not interested in that. They like all kinds of bread and seemed to especially love a day-old peanut-butter & jelly sandwich. I don't know if that's the best kind of food for them, but it seems to be what they are used to from other visitors feeding them bread. We've also fed them apples which they like.

Yesterday afternoon some friends dropped by as they were riding home from school. Sami and AJ hadn't gone again. They hung out and fed the birds for a while then AJ, Nicholas and I got on our scooters (I borrowed Sami's) and we went with our friends to a local playground. Nicholas loves his scooter and he is fascinated with bikes so maybe he might be the first of my children to ride one. Sami and AJ have never been very interested in bikes, they've been content with their scooters. Yesterday Nicky carried his scooter up the slide at the playground and I had visions of this little 2 year old extreme sports star hurling down the slide like it was a ramp at a skate park. Once he got it to the top of the slide, he rode it on another little ramp at the top of the play equipment and then must have figured that riding it down the slide would have been a bit too steep for him at this point. He's a very determined litte guy though. Had to have that scooter up on the equipment.

We're going to have a lunar eclipse party tonight with some friends at a local beach. Cary and the kids researched what happens to the moon during that (the moon moves into earths shadow so there is no reflection of the sun on it to give it its brightness and it will go dark). Maybe I should pack the headlamps and flashlights.

I wonder what other adventures this day will bring?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Some photos

AJ, aka birdman, still in his PJ's, feeding bread to the rainbow lorikeets. He wakes up so excited to see the birds that he rushes over to them as soon as he's out of bed.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Sami had designed this black shirt for herself. She took a pair of scissors to a pair of track pants, cut out the crotch and rolled up the legs, um, sleeves. She often modifies her clothes in some way. It's a good thing that a lot of them come from the thrift store! Sami also spent a bit of time yesterday drawing rather complex designs. She's very critical of her drawings though and tears them up if they are not 'right' in her mind.

Sami hanging out, front of our annexe & camper. It's a good little camper for now. A newer and larger one will be nice one day though. Cary is looking into sending one over for us when he goes back to the US next week. Next week - argh, I'm going to miss him like crazy. I know the kids will too.

The back of our little home. That's Nicholas in the red shirt and our Toyota Landcruiser to the right.
Another reason we chose to start with a smaller camper is the high price of petrol here. Our 4x4 has dual fuel capacity. It takes unleaded petrol (called gas in the US) and also LPG (liquid petroleum gas, called gas here). Petrol is currently AU$5.20 / gallon and gas AU$2.40 / gallon.

I'll get some photos of inside the camper another time.

Hope you're all having a great day. The sun has been out most of today here - ahh, lovely!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fabulous Friday

Sami & AJ skipped school today and we've had a fabulous day. They spent several hours this morning feeding the rainbow lorikeets, climbing trees and playing with other kids here. We went for walks, did some laundry, and just hung out. We sat outside when it wasn't raining and came in and watched a movie when it did rain (again!). It's been a perfectly lovely, natural living kind of a day.

I took some photos of the camper and will post them next time I'm on here.

Enough already!

After the brief spell of sunshine the other day, we've had nothing but more rain and wind. It's expected to last another day or two. Ok, so we need the rain, but a whole week of it? The local newspaper reported that on the heaviest day this past week, 107.8mm of rain fell overnight. That's over 4".

Winter is officially over here at the end of this month and then spring begins. It should be a very green one after all of this.

We chose to park our camper on a grass pad, we could have chosen a concrete one but didn't expect this much rain. When it was dry, it was so great to step out of the camper onto the grass. But now it's mud and cold water. This too, shall pass.

Before the rain, as we glided easily into this simple living lifestyle, I found myself getting more in touch with myself. I was eating a lot more fresh foods, and I was also eating less as I was living with more awareness of my actual needs. The rain and cooler weather has changed that and I have been eating more of the things that my body really does not do well with. Ah dear, I'll get back on track soon.

It's 3:30am on Friday here. I can't sleep. I'm listening to the wind soaring through the trees and the ocean pounding.

The transition to this lifestyle has been made easier because of technology. Our laptop is our DVD player and TV and the wireless internet is fabulous. The 3"x1" TV receiver that plugs in to the USB port gives us better reception than we had at our house. Another laptop would be nice so that someone can be on the internet while others watch the TV or a DVD. But it hasn't been an issue so far. When the warmer weather comes back, we probably won't even think about it as we'll be outside more often.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Hip hip hooray, the sun came out today! After non-stop rain for about 4 days, we have sunshine today! Some of the rain we had was very heavy with strong winds. Our camper held up and so did we. Living this close to each other and to nature has given us a great appreciation for simple things like warm feet and blue sky and a few minutes by myself to go to the bathroom. Most campers in this park got some water in them during the heavy storm, as did we, but it wasn't bad.

I am wishing that I had just put in 4 weeks notice at the school. Sami and AJ are ready to leave. They know that they don't have to go if they don't want to, but they are choosing to still go most days. They are usually late though. I've come to see this experience as a part of our Life Learning journey. We no longer have any doubts that LL / unschooling is what is best for us. Interesting that the thing that has turned Sami off the most is the very thing that most people highlight about the school experience - the social side. She's had other children from her class teasing her about her reading. Plus, she would rather choose her friends rather than be forced to spend her free time there with kids she just doesn't connect with. I've realised that Sami really likes the rhythm of school and it gives her a sense of security. So I will work on establishing that for her here. It's hard for me though. AJ has enjoyed the social side of school, but does not like the rules.

The thing that helped me get through some of the challenging parts of the recent storm were repeating "this too, shall pass", taking the kids to the tv room and letting them just run around in circles (there were no other people in there at the time), and just being in the moment, feeling Mother Nature in her wildness. It's all good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wet, wavy and wild!

It's been raining for 1.5 days now, non-stop. Yesterday it was just 'rain'. Today it is 'heavy rain'. It's a good test for our camper and our patience. Actually, our patience has been doing very well, it's interesting and exciting living so close to nature.

We took about one second to get used to living in the camper and we love being outside most of the day. In the morning I take my yoga mat outside and do yoga watching the sun rise and the birds wake up. We've been spending the majority of our time outside. The campground has outdoor sinks (as well as some inside the big camp kitchen) where we like to do our dishes. It's so great to not be confined to doing things like that indoors.

Yesterday during the gentle rain, Nicholas got some of his toy motorbikes and sat on the edge of the grass playing with his toys in a nice big puddle, totally not minding that he was getting rained on, just enjoying the moment.

The day before that, one of the other visitors here, who is a hairdresser, came over to our place and gave the kids and I a haircut as we sat outside enjoying the day. The new cut together with the wet weather has given Sami and I very wavy hair. Mine feels wild and I love it!

One of the things we love about our pop-top camper is the huge windows it has. We feel so close to nature, even if we're inside. I was lying down with Nicholas today as he drifted off into his daytime nap, and I was so enjoying watching the storm outside - watching the trees dance with the wind and rain. The wild heart inside of me connected with the wild side of Mother Nature with an appreciation I've never had before. I put my hands against the canvas and felt the rain pelting down yet I stayed dry..so close, yet able to keep my little cub safe from the storm so he could sleep peacefully.

Another thing we like about the camper is the floor plan. It has a lot of seating with storage underneath as well as a sink, oven/stove, more cupboards and a little fridge. We removed the table from inside the camper as it opens it up more. We have an annexe as well which is like a huge canvas tent that attaches to the camper, effectively giving us another room. In there, we have a long camping table with a bench seat. This is where the kids have their art supplies, where we often prep our food and sometimes where we eat when we've got this rainy weather. We have a bar fridge which is about twice as big as the one in the camper that we actually don't use as a fridge as it's so small. We have another folding table that has our fruit bowl and other food stuffs stored on and under it. And under the long table are large plastic storage boxes with our clothes in them.

It's a good starter camper. It's easy and light to tow. The annexe makes it very spacious (well, for a camper that is). I'll post some photos on here when the sun comes back out. Cary is going to look into bringing a newer camper over from the US. They are sooo much cheaper there. We've been looking at ebay there to see the kind we would like. I don't know that there's any such thing as the 'perfect' camper, they all have pros and cons. It's a matter of figuring out our priorities and then going with what best meets those. As our children get older, I'm sure those priorities will change.

What's most important though, is that we remember to be ourselves - following our own interests while enjoying being a part of our family. Cary has been so calm and centered throughout this transition. His attitude of being in the Now, has been soothing during the many times when I started to panic about all that needed to be done. Sami and AJ have adjusted to this without any complaints - they see the adventure and excitement in it. Nicholas, well he's just happy as long as we're together.

Sami and AJ went back to school a few weeks ago after the winter break. As we "have to" give the school 4 weeks notice, or else pay for 4 weeks tuition, we chose to give notice of about 7 weeks, mainly so that Sami could have a decent amount of time to try the violin which they were just starting this term as well as staying here for the lovely Spring Festival at the school. Their last day will be 14 September which seems a long way off, but I'm sure it will go quickly. We're all looking forward to getting back to the Life Learning lifestyle 24/7.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Contents may settle during transit

How much do we really need? Looking at the small suitcase I brought with me, it still looks like too much. Ok, it is still winter so I have clothes for 4 seasons in there but I wonder if I could get all I need into an even smaller suitcase or storage bin.

We looked at our storage unit the other day where all the things we thought we'd like to keep are stored. I wondered "why am I keeping all this?". Of course there are some things that need to be stored like photos and special sentimental things. But do I really need to pay to store the Christmas tree I got for $5 at the local thrift store? We plan on living OTR for..well, indefinitely at this point. Holding on to the few bits of furniture - that again, were purchased 2nd hand - shows a lack of trust that good deals on nice furniture will come to us if we need them again. I wonder just how lean I could go?

I know we haven't been in this situation for very long, but in terms of our 'stuff', less is definitely better. I brought along a big box of toys for the kids and they have hardly played with any of it. They have been having much more fun playing with the other kids in the park, or at the pool, or in the games room, or feeding the rainbow lorikeets, or going for walks. I'm glad we are staying here for a bit longer so that we can fine-tune this process and figure out what we will need and use while we are OTR.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Out, In, On, Over

We are out of the house, we are in the camper, we are on the road and over the moon!

Oh my golly, it was such a massive effort to sort through our stuff, do the yard sale, pack the stuff going into storage after figuring out what's coming with us, take the stuff to the storage unit (we still have to rearrange that but it can wait a few days), get the camper set up with our stuff and then clean the house. I have no desire to do that again! Whenever we would bring things to the camper, I just did not want to go back to the house. But it's done now, with many many thanks to our good friends Tracey & Dany & Mel that came to help clean and pack and brought us dinners. Fantastic! We love you guys!

We are so ready for this. In the past, we've spoken about doing it, but we just weren't mentally ready for what it's required to take this step. We've only had 2 nights in the camper, but I love it. I love having less stuff, I love being outdoors most of the time, I love the friendly community in the caravan park - other travellers are so helpful and friendly, I love sleeping closer to nature - with just canvas walls rather than brick. The kids have adapted to it so easily - loving the playground and the pool (even though it's a bit too cold for Cary & I to swim, they don't seem to mind), meeting kids from other countries.

It will take us a little while to fine tune the process, but we are really happy about how it's going. Even though we haven't actually left the area, it feels like we're on the road as we're planning our next places to visit, and are living as we will "OTR".

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Almost there..

For several weeks, I've had a knot in my belly. I think it's a mixture of excitement and concern of all that we need to do. In the past, I've moved a lot. I've always looked forward to the move and enjoyed the excitement of a new home / town / state/ country. I have not been enjoying this process as much as usual, but that's probably because it's really not that long ago that we had the major move here, but I am excited about what's coming up.

We are all looking forward to going back to homeschooling, living simply and on the road.

Cary has mellowed so much since he's been here. He needed a good long break after hardly ever taking a break back in the US. He is so calm and connected to the children and I. He really "gets" the Life Learning approach we take to homeschooling! It's great to see him getting more connected to himself too.

Sami (9.5yrs) is more sure of the things that really interest her, rather than doing things because others are doing them. She's more aware of her strengths and other areas she'd like to work on. After I read the last Harry Potter book within a few days, she decided it was time to read all the HP books. So we're reading them together. She's keen to watch each movie after finishing a book and is already talking about things in the first book that are not in the first movie (that she hasn't seen for over a year).

A lot of people have been mentioning that AJ (6 yrs) seems to be maturing - he's definately moving into a new stage. He's still goofy and rowdy and playful, but his gentleness is shown more often and he seems calmer within himself. He has a very active imagination and still loves books about the real world - how things work, why things are the way they are, what causes things in nature etc.

When Nicholas was still in utero, a healer / psychic told me that he was an Indigo child. I think that they were right. He has a very strong opinion and voices that. When he makes his mind up to do something, he is full of determination. Like potty training himself at 21 months - day and most nights. His speech is having a major breakthrough at the moment and new words come through several times a day. He is always concerned when someone hurts themself and he will go to them and put his hands on them. He often reads my mind and says something just after I've thought it. Other people are drawn to him like a magnet. He's almost 26 months old.

For me, I've found it very helpful to read blogs and stories of other real, unschooling families. The love and inspiration that I still feel from members of the LVLL group that we left in the US helps so much, as does the friendship and support from the friends we've made since we've been here. We are so blessed to have such good friends here and there.
Thank you!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Phase One complete

Or is it more like Phase 101? We had a yard sale yesterday. I was not looking forward to it. Back in the US, I used to enjoy having a yard sale, but this time, I was just tired and tired of it. Once it got going, I was ok and we did get rid of a lot of stuff. Cary is amazed by how much stuff we've accumulated in the 10 months we've been here. All the kind of stuff it takes to make a home function - some tables, clothes, toys, books, chairs etc.

This coming week we have to finish packing up what's left in the house and put it into our storage unit. We still have to do a few things to the camper to get it ready and then clean this house. Within 2 weeks, it will all be done and then we need to get Cary ready for his trip back to the USA.

I trying to get back into the moment - being present. But there is so much going on, I'm finding it rather challenging. I'm feeling a bit scattered and overwhelmed. ..Breathe deep, seek Peace. .. I get so caught up in all the details that I forget the most important detail - to take care of myself in the process, to take time out to really be in the moment, to play and laugh and be silly instead of serious and buzzing about trying to get everything done. To not neglect the rest of my family and to find creative ways the kids could help. To actually accept help from them and others who offer.

What still needs to be done will get done whether I'm stressed or relaxed about it. It will be a lot more fun if I can just relax. I might save myself a few wrinkles in the process!