Saturday, 28 November 2009

Nature Experiments

Littletree borrowed a book from the library this week called “101 Nature Experiments”. It’s pretty much what it says it is – step-by-step instructions on doing fun experiments that are somewhat educational.

She’s taken to reading upside-down lately

70 reading upsidedown

We’ve been having fun going through the book and doing the experiments, and incidentally, Littletree is learning a lot from it.

71 experiment

Littletree has also been reading a lot to her dolls, which is very cute.

76 reading

And we’re learning about architecture and form with a boxful of carpentry off-cuts we got from a neighbour – Littletree has been working on building castles for the faeries, which is loads of fun, and it’s great to see how she works out the logistics of fitting all the different shapes together and balancing them. Unlike regular kids blocks, they’re cut unevenly and have odd shapes.

85 block castle

Meanwhile, Purple and I are still hard at work improving the garden, here’s me mowing the lawn with my machete. It’s effective, good exercise and uses no fossil fuels :)

89 mowing 

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


We’ve been working on our garden a lot lately, Purple has been building retaining rock walls and reinforcing the beds, and I’m starting a new herb patch with valerian, motherwort, skullcap, plantain, pennyroyal, sage, chamomile and room for more.

63 garden herbs

The garden is quite long and narrow, we have cassava,

61 garden

Chilli, aloe vera, comfrey (and potatoes under the matting)

64 garden aloe chili comfrey

Pineapple, cherry tomatoes, mint

65 garden tomato herbs pineapple

The frame I built for the spinach to climb up on is made with only natural materials – bamboo poles and cat’s claw vines to hold it together.

83 garden frame

Littletree has her own flower bed that she takes care of

69 garden flowers

And a strawberry patch!

74 strawberry

Littletree got to eat the first one yesterday!

75 strawberry

I’ve also planted a few trees – a blueberry bush, a japoticaba, a red raspberry bush, a lemon myrtle, and a lemon tree.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Homebirth; Australia Spits on Human Rights

I’ve spent most of the last week since we got home from camp dealing with a nasty cold – Littletree was feeling pretty sick and feverish on the day we came home from camp, and spent most of the next 3 days in bed with a yucky, wet cough. But we took good care of her, and she got better, only for me to catch the cold. I came down with a sore throat, and lost my voice completely, so I wasn’t really up to blogging.

Not to mention, I find the topic on my mind somewhat depressing. Most every other birth-blogger in Australia already said something about this, so I can probably leave it alone, but it is on my mind, even though I have a tendency to procrastinate on thinking about it.

Essentially, the federal government is proposing new laws that will essentially make independent homebirth midwives illegal, and put women’s birthing choices securely in the hands of the medical institution.

Bruse Teakle at The Maternity Coalition put out this press-release, which pretty much sums it up:

Doctors to gain veto powers over midwives and birth choices

Doctors to gain veto powers over midwives and birth choices

On 5 November the Government announced that the “Medicare for midwives” Bills would be amended to require midwives to have “collaborative arrangements” with “medical practitioners” before being eligible for professional indemnity insurance or Medicare rebates.

Doctors must approve each midwife’s entry to private practice:

- Midwives will be required by Commonwealth law to have “collaborative arrangements” with “one or more medical practitioners” before being eligible for Commonwealth-subsidised professional indemnity insurance (PII).

- PII will be a prerequisite for a midwife to enter private practice, under new national registration laws, being enacted state by state.

- Doctors will be able to unilaterally withdrawal from collaborative agreements with a midwife, rendering her uninsured, and legally unable to practice in a private professional capacity.

- This legally mandates medical control over midwives’ ability to register and work in private practice.

- This will be set in Commonwealth law, which can only be changed by Commonwealth Parliament.

- These provisions are contained in the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009.

- Medical practitioners will control the registration status of midwives, despite their being a discrete, separately regulated profession.

- Medical professional organisations could set guidelines for collaborative arrangements, potentially forming defacto regulatory standards for midwifery endorsement and practice.

This gives doctors right of veto over women’s choices in birth care.

(this is an abbreviated quote, the full synopsis can be read HERE)

It basically means that no one can be a midwife; midwives have to have an agreement with a practicing doctor and all clients and births will have to be approved by the doctor and there’s pretty much no reason or incentive for doctors to ever approve anyone for a home birth, even if we thought we needed doctors’ approval. It means that women will not have the right to choose a homebirth without the approval, sanction and control of a doctor – which is hardly a choice at all.

This basically contravenes one of our most basic human rights. I’ve pointed out before that one of the Rights of Women as set out by the UN is that women have the right to have control over, and decide freely and responsibly on all matters relating to their sexual and reproductive health.

Which means that it is a human right for women to be able to make their own choices about how, where and with whom they birth. The Australian government is blatantly spitting in the face of the rights of women!

Oh, that’s right. Australia doesn’t have a bill of rights in its constitution. Which explains how the Australian Medical Association can get away with lobbying parliament to secretly make and pass laws that deny Australian women their human right to have control over their own bodies and their own birthing. Not to mention holding refugee children in detention centres for months on end, or the shocking treatment of Australia’s native peoples. And don’t lets forget that the whole of Australia’s federation was essentially based on wanting to push the White Australia policy, which is the crux of our nation’s love for abusing human rights.

Heck, Australia isn’t even a true democracy; it’s one of only a handful of nations where voting is compulsory. How is it democratic if you can’t even choose not to vote? Easy – you don’t have to actually cast a vote, you just have to show up on polling day and register that you voted. A clever way of controlling and keeping tabs on the population, indeed.

So complaining about the the crime of refusing rights and controlling birthing women is petty when you think about it.

Do I sound angry? Funny about that.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Purple got the idea to do a big puzzle; something fun to do together that isn’t watching DVDs. We found some good ones at the store and set to work.

The first step is spilling out all the pieces…

32 puzzle

Then sorting them in to colour groups and edge pieces.

31 puzzle

Start to get the edge all together and begin filling in the details (note Purple wearing the very appropriate XKCD t-shirt I got him for his birthday)

34 puzzle

We got all the picture done, and then set to doing the sky, which is the hardest, since all the bits are just plain blue.

35 puzzle

Littletree really enjoyed the project – it’s the first time she’s done a puzzle that isn’t meant for little kids

36 puzzle

The finished product!

38 puzzle

This was only 500 pieces, but now we’ve done that, we’ve got a 1000-piece puzzle to work on :)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Lush Liberated Learning Camp

This week Littletree and I were away at the Liberated Learning Camp – there was about a dozen families and around 30 kids all camping at Thunderbird Park on Mt Tambourine in southern Queensland.

It was awesome to see everyone, many of the people I only know from the forum, so it was cool to meet them “IRL”. It was also really cool to see how a big bunch of unschooled kids interact together. Ages ranged from 12 months to 15 years, and all the kids were playing and getting on really well, running around, riding bikes, throwing frisbees, climbing trees, swimming in the pool and in the creek, fossicking for crystals...

We spend a lot of time hanging around the campsite, chatting while the kids played

52 camp hang out

Here’s Littletree having a snuggle with some friends

40 camp tent

There were a bunch of activities, someone brought a parachute

42 camp parachute

And dress-ups

46 camp dressup

And facepaints

48 camp face paint

Valleysprite spent hours and hours painting all the kids faces

51 camp face paint

They played twister and some other board games

53 camp twister

Evening storytime

54 camp storytime 

After the kids were asleep, the grown-ups hung around the campfire chatting about unschooling, life, the universe and everything

55 camp fire

There was horseriding that Littletree loved

58 camp horseride

And we went on a few excursions around, including going into a mine to dig for thundereggs, and we went on a bushwalk to Curtis Falls, and the kids went into a glow-worm cave (while the adults went tasting at a local winery), I taught some Capoeira, we saw possums, and heaps more!

We had such a fantastic time, and can’t wait to do it again next year. A big thanks to Valleysprite for organising it! 

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Yesterday we went to Seaworld to celebrate the birthday of Littletree’s friend, Anasho. I was pretty reluctant to go – it’s a really far drive, and really expensive to get in, and I dislike being in crowds and overtly commercial stuff… but Littletree wanted to go and after all, they have loads of interesting aquariums and stuff Littletree is interested in learning.

So we got up really early, and drove up to Queensland. We timed it well and arrived just when the gates opened, though it still meant standing in the line for the better part of half an hour. but by the time we were through the entrance, the line up to get in had snaked through most of the carpark, so it was lucky we were there early!

First up we went to see a show, which was cute.

01 seaworld seal show

02 seaworld sea show

Then we went on some rides. Most of the rides involved getting splashed, with Littletree didn’t like so much, but she still had fun. Then we went to play in the waterpark section and go on waterslides. Littletree chickened out on the waterslide, but she had a great time swimming in the kiddie pool.

We went into the aquarium section, the kids got to pat (de-barbed) stingrays

03 seaworld sting rays

And starfish

04 seaworld starfish

We went into the underwater viewing area, which was Littletree’s favourite – she chose to go back in there later as well, while Anasho was riding on the big roller-coasters.

08 seaworld aquarium

We had a look at the baby penguins

09 seaworld penguin

And the Polar Bears,

26 seaworld polar bear

It seems somewhat cruel to keep polar bears in a tropical place where it’s incredibly hot. They seemed bored, this one (in the photo) was continuously swimming at the wall, doing a backflip and kicking off again. But Littletree was fascinated.

We rushed off to see the Dolphin show, which was pretty cool.

21 seaworld dolphin show

There was one guy who did a trick of standing on the heads of two dolphins, which would jump high in the air, do a flip, and the guy would do a flip off them as well. I didn’t manage to get a really good photo of that though.

16 seaworld dolphin show

But it was a very cool show

20 seaworld dolphin show

Littletree’s favourite ride was one of the kiddie rides in the Sesame Street section – it just went up and down, but she really liked it – I think she was still a bit small to appreciate the big rides, even though she was tall enough for most of them.

22 seaworld ride

Finally, exhausted, we took the skylift back to the gate to go home.

27 seaworld chairlift

Here’s our final view of the park from the skylift.

28 seaworld boat

It was a fun day, but I was totally beat by the time we got home!