Friday, May 30, 2008

whole lesson

Last week Summer seemed to be struggling - she seemed really angry. Her mood would switch at the drop of a hat. Her chiropractor attributed it to her de-toxing. I was starting to blame myself for all of the times I had not modelled appropriate outlets for frustration. All of the times when I yelled, slammed, stomped and generally lost it. I was thinking of my desire for peace and how I 'should' be able to be the 'good' role model for that, which is what I often am - in my mind. I was hard on myself for not being calmer more often.

I expressed that feeling to a dear friend who reminded me that if I was to be calm all or most of the time, I would not be showing my children how to be a whole person. She reminded me that passion is a normal and good part of life, and it just needs appropriate outlets.

It got me thinking about the yin and yang of life and the search for balance. The balance we see so evident in nature - light and dark, cold and heat, etc.

I can see plenty of times when I have denied my wild side. I am fire and cannot deny that. We have four fire signs in this family, Nicholas is an air sign. We have plenty of passion! My friend is right - we need to ensure we have creative outlets for this. I have a wild side - always have, always will. And I love it! I also love my peaceful, gentle self. I can do it all!!

A while back I spoke about changing my name to river. Well I've thought more about that, and realised that is not the right name. As a fire sign, I cannot take a water name. I continue to be me, just as I AM.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doing Being pt 2

It's actually more than "Trust in God" as I wrote below - it's about Trust in myself, in the choices I've made and the place I'm at and the direction I'm going. And it's Trusting in those around me to be making the appropriate choices for themselves.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Doing Being

Last week I found myself falling into old patterns of 'doing'. Getting into a rhythm with the children with all of their new classes and social time with other homeschoolers, as well as all of the other things that are involved with running a household, started to get me a little twisted. With Cary away and all of the responsibility on me, friends I've spoken with have been supportive and tried to tell me that I was behaving in a way that was quite understandable.

But not for me.

I know there is a calmer way for me, a more peaceful place to operate from. It's a subtle shift within me. One that comes from a place of Trust in God, Acceptance, Gratitude, Love, a feeling of connection with all, Service and ultimately, Joy.

I am better at remembering all of this when I'm getting enough sleep, eating well and taking some time every day to do something for myself.

Yesterday I found myself starting to get a little wound up with catching up on things around here. I was able to see the old pattern emerging and stopped it, saying "this is not Who I Am". I put some camp chairs outside and went and sat in the sun with my feet up and just immersed myself in the moment. Ahh... After about 10 minutes, I went on to finish the housework etc...joyfully. It was amazing how much more I seemed to get done. In the afternoon, the kids and I spent an hour or so at the creek, playing in the sand, came home for a bath, dinner and an evening playing cards after Nicholas was asleep.

Definitely Being is a better place for me! I like me so much better when I'm in that state as it's Who I Really Am, there is no inner conflict. Peace.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

AJ & swimming lesson number 2

Summer and AJ had their second swimming lessons. Summer loved it again and AJ did also this time. He has a different teacher now that we've moved to a different day and time. His new teacher is nice young lady who happens to be have long, brunette hair. He's shown a pattern of interest in girls with this feature. So he is very happy in his class. His teacher asked me how many lessons he'd had in the past. I said only one, just a few days ago...apart from that, he's self-taught. She was impressed and said that he's very good. I think that might mean that he'll move up a class sooner than he would like to.

The weather has been beautiful but last night we had a thunderstorm and today it's been sunny, but quite cool I thought. I took the kids to a free event put on by the city at our favourite local playground. They were having a fun morning with games like tug-of-war, sack races, 3-legged races, skipping, egg-and-spoon races etc. Summer and AJ had a great time. Most of the people were wearing t-shirts & shorts still. I was in jeans with a long sleeved shirt and a jacket. I like this area a lot, but if this cool weather sticks around, we might have to head north for a while. Brrrr (I'm such a wimp in the cold!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Last Sunday we went to a Hare Krishna farm just under an hour away, to their Sunday night, free for all, vegetarian feast. We all enjoyed the exposure to a different culture and the kids enjoyed the food more than I thought they would. They all asked if we could go back next week! No one approached us to convert us but I kept asking questions with some of the ladies I met there and they were very nice, definitely not pushy.

Summer and AJ started swimming lessons this week. Summer just loved it...AJ was not impressed as they would not let him do handstands! But he will try it again. He likes the idea of getting stronger. Nicholas is not quite 3 but he's very solid and strong. When they're wrestling, Nicholas can hold his own quite well. AJ also had a gymnastics trial and loved it. We're trying to get in with a homeschooling gymnastics class. Summer and AJ are also starting a homeschoolers drama class and Summer is doing a singing class. They are both going to look at a kung-fu class too.

We've just found out about a homeschool group that sounds like it could be good for us too. It's a bit closer than the other group we've been going to, and will continue to go to.

So we're getting a lot more active here and it's good for now. We'll see how it all goes and if it's too much we'll back off in some areas.

The park is starting to fill up with snowbirds from the south. We're getting more retired folk in but more kids come in on the weekends with their families. I'm starting to think about where we'll go after here. With all of the new classes and groups, we'll be staying in the area for a while yet.

Homeschooling Interview

This is part of an interview posted on one of the homeschooling groups I'm in. Andrew Denton is a comedian / talk show host on the abc (like the pbs). Michael Leunig is a political cartoonist / artist / author. His website is The full interview can be found at This is the part that is relevant to homeschooling...I love the way he explains that the horse is the teacher, or the paddock is the teacher (etc) and also the last paragraph by Michael as well...

ANDREW DENTON: Your children, Felix and Minna, who are, I think, 13 and 11, something like that?


ANDREW DENTON: You mentioned that you're home schooling them, what do you teach them?

MICHAEL LEUNIG: Well, they learn, you see, children want to learn. I think healthy children just, you can't stop them learning and so you've got to provide, it's a matter of provision. You create an environment where they are keen and eager to, and curious, and so, for instance, my daughter, Minna, loves her horses. She has a couple of horses and the horse is the teacher at that point. When they're walking across the paddock, paddock is the teacher, the snake that crawls in front of them is the teacher. When they're helping fix a fence or fix the pump, that is the teacher. Children's eyes go to things, they sparkle when they see something, so you say, "OK, we'll go there. We follow that". You follow things.

ANDREW DENTON: Do you worry that you won't be able to give them a broad enough education beyond your and Helga's view of the world?

MICHAEL LEUNIG: Well, you couldn't control the situation to that extent. The world just comes in on top of you. It creeps under the door. It falls out of the sky. It's all around. I mean, if you love your children you're not wanting to see them become ignorant and narrow and if they want to go to school, fine, you know. I they want to, if there comes that time, they can go.

ANDREW DENTON: The other thing about school that is provided, of course, is community, that sense of learning to work with your peers, to build friendships, all of that.

MICHAEL LEUNIG: And to bully each other to death and to be sort of frog-marched around on the playground.

ANDREW DENTON: All those things, too, but...

MICHAEL LEUNIG: Yes, all those things. To submit and to be controlled.. . Bullying doesn't necessarily. .. And to be confused out of your head by all these mad things they teach them, crazy.

ANDREW DENTON: Aren't these things, though, that as your children move into a broader world as they get older, they're going to have to find a way to deal with them because they're, you can't close them off.

MICHAEL LEUNIG: No, you're opening them up. No, you can't close off these bad things. Absolutely, and that's why I'm home educating them so that at the centre they're strong because it's a big, wild world out there. See people would caricature this as a narrow, parochial view. I see it as the opposite. I think it's trusting that the child has a soul that wants to open up to all the world. Make it strong, let the child be strong at the beginning. Let the soul centre be happy and solid and strong and it can cope with whatever comes. Creativity is the way through and I think so much creativity is crushed in education.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

a few days here

Tonight the boys were in the bath together. I sat on the bench in the family bathroom and called a friend. While I was chatting and keeping one eye on the boys, they let all of the water out of the tub, soaped themselves really well and then started sliding all around the tub. They had a great time until AJ flipped a bit and his butt planted on Nicholas' face. Nicholas laughed until he blinked the soap into his eye - he didn't like that.

Nicholas and a friend - a 5 year old girl who is travelling and homeschooling with her family and staying in this park at the moment - spend a lot of time together. They are often here rummaging through our craft drawers and doing something with the bits and pieces they find. Several days ago they discovered several meters of fluro rainbow string. That piece of string has given them at least an hour of play, probably more. They wrap it under and over things, thread it through holes, have made a house and a jail and a barn with it and I'm sure other things in the secret little world they create. I love to hear their excited giggles and squeals. They are so cute together!

Last week I took Sami to a new chiropractor / kinesiologist. Well, new to us...he's been in the biz for 28 years and knows his stuff. He repeated what other docs have told us but a bit more firmly (in a nice way). We have to get Sami ...oops, of wheat, dairy, high sugar and peanuts - for at least a month. Then we'll reassess. She'll probably need to stay away from those things, but may be able to have a little now and again. She's been listening to him and has been eating all of the recommended things. (amazing!)
I have a bunch of vegan recipes and a few vegan cookbooks (I don't have many cookbooks with us but they are all either vegan or raw vegan recipe books). So I thought I'd look for other vegan books at the library that might encourage Summer to get even more involved with her food choices - a recipe book with pictures would be ideal. The book she liked the best was a little recipe book devoted entirely to Vegan cupcakes! It has a photo of almost all of the 75 different types of cupcakes. I found a few other 'kid friendly' vegan / food allergy recipe books but I was most impressed to find that the library had 3 copies of Roxanne Klein & Charlie Trotter's "Raw" recipe book. I'm looking forward to getting into that.

AJ's camp chair broke and we've been looking for a new one for him. He likes to take his time to think about decisions like this so we had been to a few different shops looking for the right one. We went into a discount store today looking for more craft supplies and found several camp chairs there. My eye went straight away to a nice turquoise coloured one. On closer inspection, we found that it had speakers built into the armrests. Little wires ran to a pocket at the back which housed a mini battery-operated amplifier. A wire ran from that to another pocket on the side which had a more of the same wire and a plug on the end of it. The store also sold batteries so we got some of those, popped some in the amp and got the trusty MP3 player out of my bag and plugged it in. It worked! Music was piping out of the armrest! Sold! (I'm not usually into buying things that take batteries, but AJ was so excited about this chair and we can use rechargeable batteries at least.) AJ is loving his new chair. It works great with his DS as well. After we bought it, he was all excited, thinking about the different things he could try and plug in - the tv, computer ..wondering if he could create surround sound as they already have speakers next to the screens. And how cool it would be if it would work when playing Guitar Hero on Playstation! This evening as I was getting dinner ready and Aj was playing with friends, I plugged the MP3 player into his chair and danced around. It was better than using the earphones which I tend to keep knocking out when I'm busy doing other things. I tell you, we are sure camping in style!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

energy efficiency

I know it was Earth Day recently in the USA. We're constantly aware of how we can make even more of a difference and I've been thinking about some things that the Aussies have been doing for years.

Shortly before we left the US, the larger grocery stores started selling those green reusable shopping bags. Before that, it was not really, um..appreciated, by check out operators at conventional grocery stores when we would take our own bags to use. Wild Oats, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, sure, but not the Albertsons etc. Those green bags have been in use in Australia for a decade or so. Even my Mum has been using them since they were introduced. There are even some shops here that will not automatically give you a plastic bag if you don't have your own bags - some places will sell you plastic bags, other places provide boxes from their deliveries for you to use.

When I moved to the US, I (and all of my Aussie friends and family) were shocked to find that there were no clothes lines in every backyard, as there is here. And to think I actually got used to the convenience of drying my clothes in the dryer makes me feel like a traitor. Since I've been back, I've been using the clothes line except when we have days and days of rain and we've pretty much run out of clean things to wear.

About a month ago I bought a front loading washing machine at a garage sale for $40. It worked well for a little while then pretty much died. It's ok, I got my money's worth out of it and discovered how wonderful it is to have my own washing machine in the gazebo without having to load everything up and go to the shared laundry and pay $4 per load to wash it and waste time hanging around waiting for it. So when the other machine died, I did some research and found a great deal on a new machine. They even delivered it, set it up and took the old one away. And because it's a water and energy efficient machine, the state govt is giving me a $200 rebate! They offer rebates on a lot of other water and energy saving purchases like rainwater tanks, dual-flush toilets (which have been in all new homes and public restrooms etc for, gee, I don't know..15 years maybe?), shower heads and other similar items.

While I'm mentioning public toilets, I have been really impressed with the shopping centers here who all have several 'parents rooms'. These have private areas for breastfeeding, as well as other chairs or lounges for feeding, or tending to children, change tables, often toys for toddlers/preschoolers to play with while Mum is taking care of the bub, and toilets - often with a "little toilet" as Nicholas likes to call them, as they have child sized toilets. Some have tv's and microwaves as well. Oh, and the shopping centers all seem to have parking just for parents with young children, indicated by a sign with a stroller on it, similar to the way parking for disabled folk is marked.

Ok, I'm getting off track here. Back on to how Aussies are generally pretty earth friendly. You'll see a lot of smaller cars here than you will in the US. Not as many big pick ups and SUV's. Hardly any actually. So petrol is more expensive here, as is the initial price of cars so that has some bearing on it too. Perhaps if those things were cheaper, you would see more of the excess that you do in the US. As a result of the same reasons, the majority of campers are smaller too.

Most homes do not have air con and it would be a rare thing to have reverse cycle ducted heat/cooling. When I was growing up here, in the winter we would put on extra layers and perhaps the gas heater in the evening until we went to bed. But that was a temperate winter, rarely falling below 0 degrees C overnight. In the summer, we would open the windows, maybe put on a box fan if there was no breeze, drink lots of water (or beer for some), get wet under the sprinkler or head out to the beach.

I am amazed by the number of people who have the same goal as us - to get our own bit of land and get self-sufficient, off the grid. I'm seeing more references to ways to be even more energy efficient in mainstream papers and mags when I flick through them while waiting in line at the grocery store or when at the library. Change is happening!

Friday, May 02, 2008

2 may 08

Nicholas wasn't quite ready for the little bike we recently bought for him so I got him this trike. He loves it and enjoys doing something like the bigger kids are doing. I usually ride one of the razor scooters alongside him. The trike has a lever under the seat that either folds it up for storing or travelling or folds it out so that it becomes a chopper bike which AJ enjoys riding. Pretty clever. We're sure to get a lot of mileage out of it.

This is a shot of the area under the awning. The caravan is to the right and I've put up a big grey tarp on the left, just out of the picture but there is an external picture 2 photos below. The white table has on it a toaster, kettle, oven (not a microwave), blender, a two-drawer storage unit for cutlery and kitchen misc., as well a chopping board, a small pot of fresh cilantro and a few other things. Those are all towards the back of the table so we can still use the front for prep, eating, science experiments, drawing etc.

This is a pic taken from the doorway of the gazebo. Camping in style - with the washing machine and dryer! There are two canvas cabinets across from the machines that fold down pretty flat. They each have four shelves. One has food in it and one has clothes. Two 5-drawer plastic units are next to them. Behind them we have a shower curtain to give a little privacy for the change area and porta-potti that we use at night and when it's raining too hard to go to the shared ammenities. Out of view on the left of the machines is a little bar fridge and another bookshelf which has the bread maker, some toys and other things on it.

This is the front view for now. I'm sure when Cary gets back he'll rig up the bigger tarp and it will look better. But for now, it works and I like it. We've brought a fair bit of stuff out of storage, and have aquired a few extra things as well. But as we've been doing long stays at parks, we've decided to be as comfortable as possible.

In other news, we met with a new homeschooling group about 30 minutes away today. Lovely people! Small group, about 8 families, kids aged from 2 (although there's a Mum due to give birth in 2 weeks) to 16. Everyone played so well together. Several games were played where all the kids and a lot of the adults all played together, it was so great! There were a couple of dads there as well.
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