Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning need not be linear

Tannah has always loved animals. She has a particular fondness for reptiles and horses. Not to mention her recent African wild dog obsession.


She loves watching animal documentaries and talks about David(Attenborough) and Steve
(Irwin) like they are her mates. And Bindi. Who can forget her favorite and best Bindi Irwin. Every time we go to the library we have to check out the non-fiction section for animal books.

She is pretty knowledgeable about animals. She knows the difference between mammal, reptile, bird and monotreme. She can usually tell by teeth and claws whether an animal is a carnivore or not and she is good at deducting whether an animal is nocturnal or diurnal by their ears and eyes.

She has recently been moved by the endangered status of some animals-including her beloved wild dog-to become more aware of how to tread more lightly on the earth and what she can do to help. We have spent many hours online together recently doing research on this topic and have learned lots as well as been inspired.

What an amazing 6 year old right? I'm pretty sure her knowledge on animals and conservation would impress many adults.

And then many would worry about her "falling behind" to learn that she turns 7 in April and doesn't read.

One of my favorite parts of unschooling is that learning need not be linear. There is no order to the steps that my children must learn and they can follow their passions and interests. I also love that we have the time to devote to topics of particular interest as well as being able to explore them in not so traditional ways.

It really feels like we are free to learn

I'm joining in with Owlet for Unschool Monday

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things I Know-the chook edition

Happy Friday and welcome to the Things I Know link up. Want to join in? Easy-write your own Things I Know post and link it up below. Yay!

Tonight I'm feeling a bit PMSy/tired/emo/homesick/in need of a few beers and a dance and instead of saying the Things I Know are wah wah wah boo hoo I'm going to tell you what I know about my ladies.

No, I don't call my boobs my ladies! I'm talking about my chooks.

The Things I Know about my chooks are

-the kiddos named them and when I say all of the names together I kind of feel like I'm doing a roll call at an escort place. The ladies are Ginger, Amber, Honey, Blackie, Rachel and Rosepetal.

-the make the cutest sound when they are roosting in at night.


-their shit stinks more than you think it should

-the dog wants to eat them, despite the fact that they are twice as big as her.

-we are all growing ever more excited and impatient in the anticipation of the first egg. ANY DAY NOW.

-they all have little personalities. Ginger and Rachel are currently in a battle for the head hen role while Honey is last in the pecking order. Amber is the friendliest and Rosepetal seems to be the dumbest. Blackie seems the most content.


-don't assume that a flock of chooks won't come walking into your house if you leave the back door open. And shit everywhere.

-that they make me happy with their bok boking and scratching around the place. I could become a crazy chook lady.

So what do you know?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Willow is now gluten-free and almost no grain or sugar. A trial of some spelt bread that ended in tears sealed the deal.


But we want to see less of this face when her "body doesn't feel good"


And more of this one when she's feeling all vital and full of energy

I've got lots to say on the food issue at the moment-I'll save it for another post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Routines and outsourcing


Since Luke has gone to day shift there have been some pretty big changes. When he worked afternoon shift he was always home until 1pm, giving me some time in the morning to get stuff done and giving him some time with the kids. We ate our main meal at lunchtime and I got some quiet time after the kiddos went to bed.

Now he is gone before the girls get up and he gets home at dinnertime most days. I have the kids with me all day, all week and he only gets Sundays off. My quiet time does not exist and the kids are going to be later so they can spend some time with Luke.

Instead of being a martyr to these changes I've decided to tweak my routine so that we all get what we need. It's become clear that the fly by the seat of our pants approach is not working for us at the moment and I feel it's time to adopt a bit of flexible structure. It's going to require some commitment on my behalf to stick to a daily rhythm and weekly routine, but I know that after an initial adjustment period I'll be fine.

Here are some of my ideas

-get up at 5am with Luke. This means I can take the dog for a walk before he leaves and then get my computer and quiet time before the kids wake up. This will leave our nights free for all of us to hang out.

-Outsource some childcare. Tannah, Willow and Harper are now spending Monday mornings with their Granny and it's a big win for everyone. The girl love spending time with their grandparents and Granny enjoys her time alone with them-and I get about4-5 hours to run errands/go to the gym/do computer stuff alone and without guilt. I'm also going to give our local occasional care a go for 1 hour a week so I can go to the gym. The o.c is at the leisure center where my gym is and they take kids up to 10 years old. I'm pretty sure the girls will love doing some new art and playing on the playground. My plan is to pick them up and then we can all have a swim at the center's pool afterwards.

-get a cleaner. With Luke gone for 6 long days a week I've really been struggling to get the week to week housework jobs done like the shower and the floors. I hate wasting our precious family time juggling kids and housework so we decided a cleaner would be a great option.

-keep to the same weekly menu plan. It will simplify both shopping and cooking. Also keep to the same shopping day and place each week-and write a list!

-schedule in Luke's time with his mates

-use a diary and the wall planner as well as the week to week whiteboard. Every year I start failing on the dairy front in about March and spend the rest of the year double booking myself and getting flustered when I forget things. NOT THIS YEAR.

-keep the kids activities flexible. I've written in the week to week things that we aim to do but it's not essential that we always get there. Sometimes a PJ day and a few DVDs are in order. I've got some designated home time scheduled in as well as a few meet ups that we can see how we travel on the day as to whether we attend or not.

So that is my plan of attack at running the household, being available to the kids and their needs, seeing my husband and getting some time to myself.

I'm feeling optimistic.

Any wisdom you'd like to share?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Friday and welcome to the Things I Know linkup. If you haven't joined in then it's about time you did. Write you own things I know and then link up below. I know, why haven't you done it before?

This week I'm getting all lovey dovey because it's Luke's and my 7th wedding anniversary on Sunday. This week I'm telling you what I know about us.

The Things I know about Luke and I are-


-he is as cautious as I am impulsive

-he is as Star Wars as I am Harry Potter


-he sleeps like the dead while I get insomnia

-I'm organized chaos but he's just organized


-I'm loud and he's quiet

-he likes to save money and I like to spend it


-he doesn't like to rock the boat while I cause scenes

-I love change and he loves routine


But the thing I know the most is that we work despite the differences.

And I know I love him.


So what do you know?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No More Babies


I was tucking Harper into bed last night when I really noticed how bloody big she is. My baby will be THREE in March. I can't seem to fathom where the time has gone and that my baby is so grown up.

It may sound like I'm pining for another baby. While it's true that having a cuddle with this newbie got my cluck-o-meter going I'm surprised at just how OK I feel with not having any more babies.


I figured that when Harper really started to leave her babyhood behind her (and Miss Independent's babyhood is GONE)I'd start to feel sad and maybe regret that I agreed so readily to Luke having a vasectomy.

But it really doesn't feel like that.

It feels like we have moved on to the next phase of parenting, a whole new phase with different joys and frustrations. Not being sleep deprived and not having a kid hanging off each boob means I can look back at babyhood with rose coloured glasses.


And it feels great to cluck over a new baby and get all nostalgic about when you had a newbie-and not have the desire for it to be you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A lie I hate

I've spoken before about how my beautiful 4 year old daughter talks about wanting to live with another Rapunzel rather than marry Flynn Ryder.


When Tannah and Willow play princesses Willow will often come to me and say "I don't want to marry the prince like Tannah, can't I just marry another princess?"

Here is the fucked up part. I lie to her.

I say "of course you can. You can marry whoever you like-it doesn't matter if they are a man or a woman."

And we all know that in most of our sad, bigoted world that is not the truth. In Australia there is no marriage equality. In Australia marriage means only a man and a woman, no exceptions.

But what am I supposed to say to my 4 year old? What am I supposed to tell my beautiful daughter who may or may not have to face this bigotry through her life?

While I am aware that she is only 4 and she may just end up with Flynn Ryder why should I tell her that it's wrong to want to marry Rapunzel? In my eyes it's a non issue and if she does indeed continue to want to marry a woman I don't EVER want her to think that she is doing something wrong.

So I urge the government and the people who say no to marriage equality to take a minute and think of the kids and teens who are growing up gay and the message you are sending them. That their love is worth less than that of their hetero peers and that they are somehow wrong.

Uncool and untrue.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Word To Your Mother

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 - Jesus, did you?”
Stephen King "The Body" Different Seasons (but you might know it from the movie adaptation which is Stand By Me)


This photo was taken when I was about 13 or 14. I'm the one with the kooky plaits and Smashing Pumpkins tee (I wore that shirt until it was a see through rag that actually fell apart). The brunette next to me is Chris, one of my oldest and best friends.
When we were in our early teens we spent practically every day together either at school or sleeping over at each others houses playing music, being silly and discussing the important topics like boys, why our Mothers were ruining our lives and what we were going to be when we grew up. We had matching Doors tee shirts and spent many hours lamenting why we would never get to go to a Doors concert and swoon over Jim Morrison. She made fun of my love for W. Axl Rose and I endured her obsession with Vanilla Ice. We were even on the same netball team. We both acted up at school but she always seemed to get away with it and I would end up at the office or banned from the classroom. I had a major crush on her older brother and cried when he left for uni.

Chris left school at the end of year 11 and moved to Melbourne. I was gutted. She sent postcards and letters and we saw each other when she came back to the Gold Coast to visit her family-I even took a trip to Melbourne and stayed with her when I was 20 and my ex and I were having dramas. When I moved to her city we started catching up more regularly again. For 2 years running a "few quiet Christmas drinks" with Chris turned into an all night party that ended with me waking up on her lounge room floor with an epic hangover and a hazy memory.

Of course having kids has changed how often we catch up. Chris is footloose and fancy free with a busy job and I'm busy with my kids. But when we catch up it's always fun and like no time has passed.

Chris rang a month or so ago and said "Shae, are you sitting down?" Many thoughts ran through my head. She's up the duff, met someone, eloping, moving to the UK etc etc. I nervously waited for her to give me the news.

"I bought us tickets to see Vanilla Ice!"

Wait, what?


So on Friday night I was at the Doncaster Shoppingtown Hotel with my friend who was at the last Vanilla Ice concert 20 years ago (yes that long) and we got to rock out to Ice Ice Baby and get all nostalgic as the DJ played Tone Loc, Salt n Pepa and Sir Mix-a-lot.

We carried on like we were 15 again, did those funky 90's dance moves and amazed ourselves that we still knew all the words to "Gangstas Paradise". Of course we screamed carried on when the Ice Man himself rocked a mic like a vandal but shit got crazy when we were part of a group who danced ONSTAGE. Yes, I danced onstage with Vanilla Ice. I now come with extra cool.

It's not your normal 32 year old mother of three behavior but I'm hardly normal.

But mostly I had a ball with my friend. Just like always. Except now there are iPhone photos to share on Facebook.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Things I Know

Morning all and welcome to the Things I Know linkup! Have stuff you know too? Well then write your own Things I Know post and link it up below so we can all learn something. Happy Friday!

The Things I Know this week are


-Taking your 6 year old on a pony ride at the fair is not a clever move if it's the day before your kids write their xmas lists. I'm pretty sure we don't have enough room for a pony.

-seeing things on said xmas lists that you have already bought is a ticket to smugsville.

-thinking about taking meat out of the freezer for dinner is not the same as actually taking it out.

-a new and working dishwasher brings much joy

-when the weather swings from a top temp of 16 degrees on Wednesday to a top temp of 32 degrees on Saturday of the same week you know you are living in Melbourne.


-you are not the only one who thinks pageant queens is a good dress up for a "Bad Taste" party.

So what do you know?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 ways to grow food in a tiny backyard


1-Stop wishing for a bigger yard. You may be pining for 5 acres but you might be surprised with what you can actually do with the space you have. By all means keep dreaming of your farmlet complete with cow and orchard but there is no reason you can't make the best of the space you have right now.

2-Get your hands on a copy of Jackie French's Backyard Self Sufficiency. It's such a great book for anyone who likes to grow food and keep chooks (her Chook Book is awesome too) but I have found it a great resource for my space poor garden.

3-Only grow food your family likes to eat. If you don't have lots of space to experiment then keep the prime real estate for food that won't go to waste. No point devoting room to eggplant which no one in your house likes to eat if you could chuck in another strawberry plant.


4-Consider how big that tiny seedling will grow to. Last year we planted pumpkins which took over a garden bed and part of the lawn. If I'd of put them in a different spot and planted less they wouldn't have been such a pest.

5-Use containers. If, like us, you want to devote some of your tiny backyard to lawn for the kids think about containers. Try wine barrels, styrofoam boxes, hanging baskets & pots.

6-Consider a couple of chooks. Not only will they eat your scraps,lay delicious eggs and enthrall the kids-you can put them to work turning over garden beds, eating snails and fertilizing the plants. Consider a bantam breed that is smaller and remember they will eat your seedlings so protect them.


7-Outsource space. Want to grow a heap of garlic/potatoes/watermelon etc but don't know where to put it? Why not ask a friend with a big backyard for a corner of their garden. Or seek a local community garden and take up a plot there as well.

8-Think outside the box. Grow herbs up a wall in a hanging shoe rack, build a retaining wall border of garden beds, grow food on the nature strip or tear up your entire lawn for food. There are some great ideas on Pinterest.

9-Make the best of the space you have. When you pull something up, plant something else. Don't feel like you need to have a perfectly ordered garden in neat rows-fill the gaps!


10-See the benefits to only having limited space. Weeding and pest control are easier, you need less water and your ability to spend more time with less plants can bring great yields. You often find that a confined garden has less problems with frost, heat and wind. Not to mention the fact that you might only have to walk 4 steps to pick tonight's salad for dinner.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I've judged you, and I apologize.

It's true. I was one of those Hippy-la-las who has rolled their eyes at newborns in prams, gasped at bottle fed babies and cringed at school talk. And what of those poor misguided women who birth in a hospital? Won't someone think of the children?!

Over the last little while I've come to realize that my judgement of women who I know nothing about is far from the supportive Feminist ideal that I would like for myself and my daughters.

This post has been a long time coming because I know it will draw rolled eyes and judgement towards me from others in the Hippy-la-la parenting community. But I read this article yesterday and I agreed.

I still have a whole heap of judgement though. I judge a hospital system that fails so many Mothers, Fathers and babies-a flawed system that sees birth as something which needs to be managed and often takes all the power away from the woman. But I no longer judge the women who use it.

I judge those who write parenting books telling parents to train their kids like dogs, to give them unrealistic goals about sleep and adding so much pressure to be perfect. But I no longer judge the women who read these books.

I judge a hypersexualized society where so much emphasis is placed on work and early separation from their kids that it cannot possibly support breastfeeding, and I feel anger at those "health professionals" who give terrible and outdated advice. But I no longer judge the women who choose the bottle.

And I judge a school system where kids are expected to learn by rote, conform and attain high grades rather than follow their passion. But I no longer judge those who send their kids to school.

I'm passionate in people feeling empowered to know that there is a whole other way to raising your kids rather than the mainstream way of punishment and reward. I want people to know that they could parent where kids will sleep when they are tired, eat when they are hungry and learn when they are ready. I want people to know that birth does not have to be mean intervention.

But just because I say that you could parent this way does not mean that you should.

I'm choosing to let go of all the judgement that goes around in my parenting circles. I'm saying do what works. I'm saying that I'm absolutely pro-choice for a womens body-that means an elective c-section for no other reason other than you want one and a freebirth with only yourself and your partner present. If you want more information go get it. Interested in homebirth, home education or co-sleeping? Speak to someone who knows what they are talking about, probably someone who has done it before. Don't feel boxed in to whatever parenting style or method you have decided to take on.

I'd invite you to also stop judging other parents-you know nothing about them or their lives. Be true to yourself and be true to your kids-enjoy the freedom it brings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things I Know-the future Shae edition

I can't believe it's Friday. Truly. But here we are. So why don't you share what you know this week.

Just write your own Things I Know post including a link back to me and then add your link below. Ready? Set? GO.

This week I'm telling Shae Of The Future some important things that Present Day Shae knows.

Hey Shae Of The Future! Here are some Things I Know-LISTEN.

-if you have to get up early and be out the door on time don't stay up late looking at dumb shit online the night before. Sure, Ugliest Tattoos is hilarious but the time could be better spent sleeping, or getting prepared for the next morning.

-if your dishwasher is ever broken again (dear jeebus don't forsake me with this horror ever again pleeeeaaaase) don't pretend that the piles of dishes in your kitchen will wash themselves. I highly recommend washing up more than once a day.

-if you have an awesome holiday/sleepover/party coming up don't tell the kids until the day of the event. You seem to be pretty slow on the uptake of this one and I'm currently hearing about our visit to Queensland next year that is yet to be finalized. Are we there yet?

-starting any conversation with your husband with "this person on Twitter said" is likely to get a raised eyebrow from him. He doesn't care about twitter. Leave the poor guy alone.

-there is a window of opportunity for kids not hamming it up for most photos. Enjoy it.

-write shopping lists. Or plant a money tree.

-enjoy every moment with those gorgeous kiddos because time really does fly.

So what do you know?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A co-sleeping tale

Once upon a time there were three kids. Oldest, Middle and Youngest. All three of these kids shared their parents bed from birth until they wanted to sleep in a bed of their own. The three kids parents knew that co-sleeping was safe if you followed some guidelines and so so good for both the parents and the kids so they were happy to co-sleep for as long as all parties were happy. And the parents of the three kids did love having their babies close.


But it wasn't all smooth sailing.

Oldest was too cuddly. As she grew she spent all night being a barnacle on her Mama's back and not letting there be more than 1 centimeter of space between them at any given time. But the Mama got used to it and soon was sleeping soundly with a small person suctioned to her back.

Middle was too pointy. As she grew she slept in the shape of a greater than sign and you either got the pointy bum or the pinchy toes poking you all night. But the parents got used to it and soon all slept soundly with with a blanket tucked between them.

But Youngest was just right. As she grew she slept still and sound and snuggled in a ball without pinching or poking or sticking herself to either of the parents. And the parents were happy and everyone got lots of sleep.

As the years passed Oldest grew and wanted her own room so the parents made her one and she slept in there happily. After more time passed Middle did too and the parents realized that those years with their babies and children co-sleeping was coming to an end. They were both sad that those magic years with small kids had flown so fast and happy because they knew that one day they would get back the whole bedroom to themselves. And also optimistic that the magical and elusive "regular sex life" might return under the right conditions.

But until that day they were happy to share their room with youngest (who now sleeps in a bed of her own right next to the parents bed) and whenever she wanted to climb in-between the parents and sleep they were happy to let her. Not only because they knew that soon she would be too old to share the bed and they would be sad that their last baby was a baby no longer, but also because she wasn't too cuddly or too pointy but she was just right.
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