Sunday, 31 August 2008

On The Road Again

We made it out of the house! After so many weeks of procrastination it was great to just do it. To pack the car with no fanfare or goodbyes and start driving.

We got out of the house and on the road before 10am on Thursday morning, and made good time driving north to visit Valleysprite and her wonderful family just out of Gympie in southern Queensland.

They live on a beautiful property, with an enormous tree swing

CIMG4271Valleysprite's kids are entering a competition to be voted wildlife warriors, they made a fantastic video, so check it out and vote for them! Give them a five star rating as well :) Click here to see it.

CIMG4287The next morning, after a lazy pancake breakfast, we jumped in the van and drove. and drove. and drove. We tried to stop a lot and take breaks, especially for Littletree, who got antsey in the car. After about 1000km she took to her hair with a pair of scissors, so she has an interesting punk effect at the front!

We slept the night in a rest area just south of Mackay, and drove on.

In the morning, we crossed paths with some friends who were driving south, and we stopped to chat with them. 

While we were sitting in the playground next to a gas station, a huge gang of bikers came up. The line of them seemed endless, coming around the bend; the noise horrific! It was really cool. They all pulled into the gas station to fill up. Sadly I was slow getting my camera out to snap the huge procession of them driving, but I got a snap of the queue at the pumps. You can't really see, but there were hundreds of them.


Ever northward, we kept on, not quite expecting to arrive to Cairns that night, CIMG4290but we did! At about 9pm we pulled into town, and got to Rapunzel's place. She lives in a big share house full of hippies, in full swing of a huge party. 

Rapunzel was dressed up as a gypsy, as was the theme of the party. We were so stoked to see her, though still exhausted from driving 2000km (1200mi) in three days.

And lo! Rapunzel had shorn off her long locks, and is now sporting a spunky new haircut. I suppose I shall have to think of a new nickname for her.CIMG4293

Anyway, it's great to arrive, and fantastic to see her again. Littletree is so excited to have her big sister back, and I'm about ready to sleep for 100 years! I guess we'll stay here a week or 2, and then start the long drive southward.

But who knows... we might end up living here :)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Road Trip Down Under

It's finally underway! The next instalment of the Ultimate Unschooling Field Trip!

87 demelza elaWe've been planning for about a month now to drive up to Cairns in the far north-east of Australia to visit Rapunzel. Somehow the trip kept getting postponed, first we were waiting for some things to come in the mail, then I got sick with a chest infection, then last week one the ever-gorgeous Lady Maroon came to visit us, in the midst of a crisis...

It was fun having Lady Maroon here, we caught up, reminisced over old times, and drank loads of strawberry champagne and danced to 80s pop.

But now it's time to hit the road!

The plan is to move pretty fast, and get all the way to Cairns in three days, though it's 1800km. I'd love to take our time, and stop lots on the way, but since Purple still has to work every day, and the main purpose is spending time with Rapunzel, we'll travel fast.

We've got a few people from the home school groups to visit, and plans to do lots of stuff! Shall be fun, and I will, of course, post lots of updates and take lots of photos :)

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Liberated Learning

Things have been pretty hectic here the past week or two... I've been working a lot on getting a new website and forum up and running.

Kind of a long saga, the gist of it was that I used to post a lot on a Home Education forum, that I was admin on; I put a huge amount of work into it, posting and keeping things running.

At the same time, there was a discussion on another forum that I used to frequent, about girls wearing pink frilly dresses. It seemed the general consensus was in agreeance with this article. Which is all very well and good, but me, being focused on respectful parenting, unschooling, and open communication, I disagreed.

I just can't get onto a boat of oppressing my child to save her from future potential oppression. I truly believe that my child, being raised with loving respect, and lots of communication and open dialogue, will make her own choices. Some people might remember my article about Respecting Children's Choices. I wont go into all that now.

The end of it was that because of my disagreeing with key members the forum hosting that discussion, and because I was posting a lot on the home ed forum, some of the inner circle over there decided, behind my back, to take me off admin for the home ed site, without explanation, as well as making some pretty bitchy comments.

Someone else warned me about all this goings on behind my back, though she was found out by someone snooping through her Private Messages. It all crashed rather nastily. One of the other admin closed down the home education site, without warning or explanation. It's gone, and nothing we can do about it.

They started a new site, with all new admin, and a strong ethos to keep it in accordance with their own brand of feminism. I feel like I've been caught in the crossfire of some weird junior high-school bitch-drama!

Thus locked out, and receiving messages from many of the old members wanting the forum to go on as it was, I started a new site and a new forum, called Liberated Learning.

It's been a lot of work, and a steep learning curve, but it's all working now, and hey, isn't learning what it's all about?!

So, come check it out; the site is basically a forum to discuss home education, mostly focused on natural parenting styles, natural learning and respect :)

Monday, 25 August 2008

Sew; A Needle Pulling Thread

I got a Sewing machine!

Quite a few people went into giving me this wonderful gift. It all started with Purple's mother wanting to give me her old sewing machine for my birthday. I was happy to have it, but to be honest, bringing a sewing machine home from Israel was pretty unrealistic, and the shipping would have cost more than it was worth. So she suggested that I buy a second-hand machine here and send her the bill.

After spending a few days on the internet trying to find a good, old machine to buy, I gave up, feeling that there was no way I could buy a machine I've never seen before and know nothing about.

I decided to post a notice wishing for a sewing machine on our local community notice board, and trust that if I'm meant to have a machine, it will come to me.

Just a couple of days later, I called Autumn and Earth Mama to check in with them, and Autumn told me my sewing machine was there for me to pick up!

29 sewing machineTurns out someone they know had seen my notice, and somehow knew that I was their midwife, so left the machine at their place for me to collect! I was so excited to get it. It's an old Singer; after much internettery, I found out it's from 1967, and a really great model. 80 sewingI put it in for a service, and bought some new bobbins and needles, and bang! instant sewing machine :)

I took it for the first test drive today; whipped up an outrageous pink spinning dress for Littletree, copying the pattern from another dress she has.81 dress

Clearly Littletree loves the dress to bits, and spent the rest of the day twirling around in it.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Basket Cases

There was a weaving workshop at this week's homeschool meeting, which was wonderful.

Someone came and set up a Navajo-style loom and focalised the kids in weaving a traditional grass mat. Naturally, I took loads of photos, and also some video, which I've efficiently edited and uploaded to Youtube. Check it out:

It was loads of fun!

After lunch we moved on to basket weaving. By then the kids had gotten bored of weaving and drifted off to run around and play together, but the grown-ups had a great time weaving little baskets from palm fruit stems.

64 HS weaving

We were all first-time weavers, and we all turned out nice little baskets. 

66 HS weaving

It's been a dream of mine for quite a while to learn basket weaving. I've tried a few times, without any instruction, and always ended up with something that looks like a pile of sticks. This time, I powered through the first basket, and started on a more elaborate one. Here's the finished product, I'm so proud of it: 

68 HS weaving

Here's the group's collection of baskets. Pretty impressive huh :) 

71 HS weaving

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Community Garden

Yesterday was the grand opening of our local Community Garden down in the village. It was such a beautiful day, to stroll through the shady forest behind the market, with lots of local feral faeries flittering around.

30 community garden forest

At the entrance we passed by a bunch of kids playing in a lovely hobbit cubby house.

33 community garden cubbyA bunch of folk from our homeschooling group were there, making a pottery workshop.

36 community garden pottery There were lots of people, and a great energy going around40 community garden space

Some random acts of music37 community garden jam

Lots of people working together to get things happening, and establish garden beds

43 community garden work

41 community garden watering

The kids had a great time running around the herb spiral42 community garden spiral

And painting handprints on the tree mural

45 community garden handprints

The day finished up with all the hippies sitting around for drumming

46 community garden hippies

It was a great day! I really love the community we live in :)

Thursday, 14 August 2008


21 henna - beforeLittletree decided she wants to dye her hair, so I dug deep in our storage boxes and found some Henna that was left over from when we hennaed her hair when she was almost 2.5.

I took the obligatory "Before" shot:

Set about mixing up the Henna;

22 henna -preparationand rubbed the gooey mud into her hair.

25 henna application

I didn't put it into all of her dreads, but all the fringe at the front, and about half of the dreads. When it was done, she sat around for about 2 hours waiting for it to set.

26 henna application

27 henna rinseThen we ran a hot bath and rinsed it all out.

Interestingly, the colour didn't really take, I suspect because the Henna was so old. It did make a difference; you can see which hair was dyed and which wasn't but it's so close to her natural colour (the parts that aren't sun-bleached), you would never tell if you didn't know we'd done it.

Littletree had red hair when she was born (as did I), but it faded to a golden ginger-blonde. She still has red-head colouring - the gingery eyebrows, mad freckles, and white-as-pale skin, so it suits her.

"After" shot:

28 henna - afterIn the "After" shot you can see the contrast of the curl from the front of her hair going over a non-dyed dread on the side, but it's nothing like the effect the exact same packet of henna made 2.5 years ago:

seq cute 5

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Circle of All Nations - New Article

Yep, the great folk at Essence of Life have published another of my articles.
The Circle of All Nations.
It's an account of our trip to a Native American ceremony in Quebec, check it out.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Activities For A Sunny Day

Amazingly, it hasn't rained at all since we got the rain gauge, but Littletree has been putting it to good use.

Making potions!20 potion

She's been having lots of fun lately with food dyes, baking soda and vinegar.

Here's one of Littletree's latest songs, I add new ones from time to time on my Youtube. It's really interesting to see the progression from her early stuff, like the Heart Transplant song to this one. It's almost like so many singer/songwriters who started out doing really powerful, deep music and then they sold out and began doing bubblegum pop LOL

Somehow reminds me of Shakira.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Shabat Shalom!

Last week for Shabat we had a big Israeli Feast.

Purple decided to make cholent; a traditional Jewish meal that is cooked very slowly for the sabbath.

He started by soaking beans, barley and chick peas on Thursday evening.
Friday afternoon, before sunset, I got the fire stoked and Purple put the soaked grains in the pressure cooker, with some potatoes and whole eggs and got it boiling on the stove. Just as the sun set, we put it on the fire, and left it to simmer the whole night.

In the morning, the fire was out, but the pot was still warm :) Purple made some rice to an Arab recipe he learnt from his mother and we roasted pumpkin.

We invited two Israeli families to eat Shabat lunch with us, so it was twelve people in our tiny little house - six adults and six children! Pretty crowded, but lots of fun.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

After we finished fixing the bath tub, we had to run off and pick up Littletree from her friend's place. We'd been to the markets in Byron on Sunday, and Littletree ran into a friend, who invited her for a sleep over - her first ever!

So we started off, feeling fine; a beautiful sunny day, a nice drive on a pretty, winding country road through the rainforest. We got just 5km from our friend's house when the car conked out. Poor LittleBlueSky. We were going up a hill and she just lost power.
13 car

At first it seemed like it might be a fuel problem. We stood around, flapping our hands helplessly for a bit, checking different things. While we were there, three different people stopped to see if we need help, but no one could really do anything more than offer us a ride into town.

Eventually someone thought to take off the distributor cap and see if it spins. It didn't. So that solved that: the timing belt had broken, and there was nothing to do but call a tow truck.14 car
16 car

Here's the irony: I'm a member of the automobile association, but my membership had lapsed while we were overseas. Renewing the membership was high on my list of priorities, and I'd even had the papers next to the phone that morning... but, as Murphy would have it, hadn't made the call.

So, we had to call a private tow truck and pay for it - $120! Well, that turned out to be a good thing in the end, since the tow truck guy was really nice, and took us to the only mechanic in town who was open, since there was a Motor Traders' Holiday. This mechanic turned out to be fantastic - a little independent shop. he even managed to fix our timing belt right away, and charged us WAY less than I would have expected.

If we'd called the automobile club, they would have towed us to our usual mechanic back near home (this was 45 mins away), who charges an arm and a leg, and I never really trust anyway.

This new mechanic was so great, we asked him to give us a quote for a job we need to get done on our van, and he said 1/3 of the cost our local mechanic is charging! It's worth the drive, and we get to visit our friends more :)

So even paying out of pocket for the tow truck worked out cheaper than having our membership renewed (which I've done now, by the way).

When we finally got to pick up Littletree, she had been at her friend's for about 30 hours, and her mum, Chrissy was totally snowed under with an extra 2 children, on top of her own 2 and mine! She'd managed to take all 5 kids to ballet classes, i'm so impressed!
16 girls

Chrissy has also written two fantastic children's books, check them out at I highly recommend them :)

Monday, 4 August 2008


I bought a bath tub!
Furthering on my Home Improvement fad, I bought a bath tub for $50. Someone had advertised it on the noticeboard in town and I snapped it up. I *love* having a bath, and I've been missing it.
So, with Littletree away at her first sleepover, Purple and I got to work on setting it up.

Again I forgot to take progress photos, but I started with clearning a little bit of the rainforest just at the back of the house. Then we carried the tub and put it in place. A few wooden boards were nailed together to keep it stable and in place, and i dug a little drain which I filled with gravel collected from the roadside. We had an old bed base lying around, which made a perfect deck and voila! it looks fantastic :)
07 bush bath

Of course i had to test it out, and we managed to rig up a funnel on the shower, with a bit of hose attached that almost made it into the tub. We filled buckets and tipped the hot water in, I guess it was about 20 minutes to fill it up, once we had the system organised.

AHHHHHhhhhhh :D
10 bath relax

Friday, 1 August 2008

Home Improvement

CIMG4026 In the Post Office the other day I saw a rain gauge for only $5, which seemed like a good deal, and it looked like a fun thing to do, considering we get such heroic amounts of rain.

I figured Littletree would like to measure the rainfall. If she gets really interested in it, we might look at charting and making graphs, averages, weather. It's all maths, science, geography, meteorology, statistics... Or it could be just some fun :) If she's not in to it, well, I'm pretty interested to know exactly how much rain we get.CIMG4028

It's been so freakin freezing here the last week, and let's be honest; while our little cottage is wonderful in so many ways, well-built and insulated it is not. Half of the exterior walls are made of thin wooden planks,the windows are all very thin panes of glass, and there are some massive holes and cracks everywhere.

So... yeah, we've been huddled in our coats and blankets, shivering, even with the fire cranking full blast.

It all got too much, and as soon as we had a bright sunny day, we did a lot of work on improving things. I cut up an old foam mattress and used it to fill some of the bigger gaps. We covered the floor in Littletree's playroom (one of the worst drafts), with a thick blanket, we nailed strips of old carpet to the door and window frames to stop drafts coming in, covered over a broken window...

CIMG4032Then we got busy building some shelves - the back wall of the house was just a bare space of yucky brown wood, and we had all our assorted medicines and bathroom-cabinet-type stuff stacked in a huge messy pile on a bench. So, I decided to build a few shelves and put towel hooks up.

Foolishly, I forgot to take any before pics, but here's the finished product: MUCH better :)

So far so good; the house feels much tidier, and warmer too.