Friday, September 30, 2011

wish you were here!

I thought I'd put together some 

Postcards from the Land of Sweet and Slow

—a.k.a. our lovely holidays!—

I do hope you like them

A Date with a Boy

Where we


(Yes, that's us on a bus! We locked our bikes up by the beach,
then took a free bus into downtown. So easy)

Doesn't everyone assemble newly bought lego games
in the restaurant as they're having lunch?)


(mmm,  caramel mudcake with cookie dough mix-in for him,
and chocolate with raspberries for me. …It's a hard life)


Now that was a fun day.

(My husband took lots of photos of his date with our girl, 
but hasn't downloaded them yet.

I know they had a beautiful time!)


Games Games and more Games




Our new great love. 
It's adaptable—you can even create your own rules. 
We have played it over and over for days!

Found on a website called which has tons of other really fun games. 
Role playing, adventure games, physics games, silly games
(like Snail Bob—so funny). 

This one finds us problem solving for hours. It's magic.

Imaginary games with our new collection of
Lego Mini-figures

(a certain mum couldn't control herself and now we own 9. 
Don't let her drive to the toy store to get more! We need to eat too, you know!)

Friends visiting
and visiting with friends. 

no photos!

So just close your eyes and imagine the smiling
and the noise
and the food
and the talking
and the running up and down the stairs
and the made up games played in almost every room
and most importantly,
 the laughter

Delicious home-made lunches

(wow—so much spinach!)


Walks with sticks and 
a happy dog

(who got washed today. Thank goodness)

and finally,



which looked like this

and this

and this.

Every day 
has been the perfect mix of busy and not busy.

Every day
has been just lovely

just right.

I hope you are having some
just lovely and just right days too.

After all, when you find days like these
—when they plonk themselves right there before you, grinning—
they heal
and carry
and give such light.
Don't they?

Monday, September 26, 2011




Homeschoolers don't have holidays, do they?

I've been asked that, more than a few times,
over the years.

Each time I say,

Yes, oh Yes, oh YES!

Or more calmly:

"We do, actually."

Today was the first day of our Spring holidays…

and it felt so good.

There was reading for a boy, in bed, 'til 10 am
while his sister and I ate pear porridge and talked and planned and dreamed…

There was a quick check-up at the homeopath for a boy

while a girl played on Webkinz

and a dad cleaned up the back AND front verandah
(thank you so much, mr beautiful)…

Then there was more reading for a boy (4th hour? 5th?)…

while a girl taught her mum how to make these beauties:

Aren't they just glorious?
(The friendly dragon in the back is mine. The one with danger in its eyes is my girl's)

Then there was a visit with friends who'd been overseas,
so while the kids played upstairs and downstairs,
downstairs and upstairs,
we two mums got to talk, laugh and smile for three whole hours. So lovely.

And gluten-free bread
was made and eaten hot

with organic apricot jam from Belgium
('cause that's how we roll, baby!)…

Then more reading by a boy (6th hour, 7th hour…? Could a day get any more blissful?)

while a girl and a mum finished up their dragon creations

(making and attaching wings, making a stand for them so they can look like they're flying…
Don't they look like they're flying? Don't you see the wind in their hair? Look at how happy they seem!

'Cept for the fierce one. He looks like he'd like to eat the cat)…

Then it was time for a home-made pad-thai dinner
created by dad (again, thank you)

and a family tv-watching session afterwards,
to watch Junior Master Chef
(because a kid on it is a student of my husband's and a friend of my sons. How exciting!)

My two non-tv-watching kids
gaped at all the ads
(Wow. There are so many! Why are there so many? Wow, here's more!)…

so we muted the tv in the ad breaks
and asked dad to make up all the voices.
Then we cried laughing.

At which point
it was time for showers,

and just a bit more reading (hmmmm, 8th hour, I think?)

and excited talk about tomorrow
while snuggling with kids in the dark…

because tomorrow I have an all-day date with my boy
(bike riding! pizza lunch! movie!)

and a dad has a date with his girl
(toy shops! lunch with dad! maybe a swim?).


I love

these beautiful days,

regular, run-of-the-mill,

just the same as everyone else's (but not, of course),


Whether we're supposed to have them, or not.


we actually have many days like these in the un-holidays too. Just to be clear!

The only real difference between our holidays and unschool/lifelearning days is:
there's no music/art/writing class/organized event to go to every day.
There's almost nowhere we need to be, for two whole weeks!

And if you've been reading my last few posts you'll know—the break from "needing" to be somewhere comes at just the right time.

Ahh. That's me, breathing deeply. And smiling. And waving. Do you see me? I might be kind of small …some of you might need your binoculars :) )

Sunday, September 25, 2011

keeping Yes

So I've spent days recently, thinking I need to say No more.

Or even, like, once.

You see, it kills me to say No to almost anything. If I do, then I totally agonise. I dwell. I pine. And then I often change my mind. Go running after whoever I said No to and say, Wait! Wait! Nix that No! I'm in!

Because I generally see Nos as doors slamming on Possibly The Most, Awesome, Adventures Ever.

I see potential adventures everywhere. They're hiding in every corner, you know. Just like ninja bunnies, waiting to jump out at you yelling, "Surprise! Here's the Most Awesomest Fantastic-est Adventure Ever! Bet you're glad you didn't stay home ironing your socks!"

The only real Nos I've said are the ones where Yes has been out of my control. I remember every one, and they still have the ability to make me sad.

But what with feeling so overwhelmed recently, so over-commited, I thought
perhaps I should say No to even one thing.

We should drop something, I thought. Anything. Just to lighten the load. Others do it—dear friends know how to say No. How hard can it be?

So, I said to my boy. "Howabout we drop some music? Just one class. Howabout Wind Ensemble?"

"Oh, no!" he said, "I get to learn all the percussion instruments then!" (And 'Oh, that would be a shame,' said my husband, 'That's a great class for him.')

Jazz Band? "No! That's the only place I play piano." (Ditto, said my husband)

Concert Band? "Please No!" (aka: That's crazy talk, Mum!)

Jazz Combo? "Double, triple No! That's my all-time favourite."

('Yeah, dude. What he said,' said my husband.)

(To be honest, my husband didn't quite say all that! :) He thinks my son's music schedule is okay, but he listened to how I'd been feeling and said, 'He'll be fine if he drops a class. Whatever you think is best.' He's lovely that way.)

Anyway, we decided for now that all music classes are safe.

That's cool, I thought; I can drop something else.

What about art?

My mind instantly said, No! Way! I love our art classes. I love the kids' teacher. We've been going for five years now and going there feels like Home. And after years spending a quiet hour and a half reading my book, I can now choose to join in, any time I ask. This is commonly known as a Win Win. Or, Joy Joy, in my case.

What about our two homeschool groups?

Oh, but there we see our friends. There I have a chance to catch up with other mums who make me laugh. There we sit in contented togetherness as the kids dash about like fireflies.

What about music lessons?

Well, that wouldn't make any sense. The kids love them. My son even said the other day about one of his teachers, "He doesn't even feel like my teacher, Mum. He feels like my friend."

All right then. Howabout sewing lessons with our neighbour and friend, with her son who is one of the kids' best friends?

Well, that doesn't even feel like a lesson; it feels like we're playing. On Friday after the kids finished sewing their first! ever! shirts! we took a break to all draw each other without looking down at the paper. We were doubled over laughing. How do you say No to that?

Writers Workshop, then; the one I've been running for nearly two years?

But the kids are on the edge of something wonderful—we're about to work on longer projects. They want to write books, these kids. They want to meet every week. They come in and words pour out. They inspire me. Every single time we meet up, I feel bigger, brighter, lighter afterwards.

So where does that leave us? Lego League.

Where every time we go the kids have a blast. Learn so much. Be independent. Invent, explore, brainstorm and play with their friends. Where the leaps in learning are huge, where they get to achieve something kind of beautiful together. Where the tournament day, the one they spend two months preparing for, is unbelievably cool.

You see how hard it is?

The hardest part, well…

it's actually the best part. It is the sweet silver lining.

I see how much joy Yes brings.

Almost every Yes brings us




It brings us concerts, and art, and workshops, and impromptu hikes. It brings us visits with friends, hours at the library, going to plays, doing Something Completely New almost every week.

It takes us on camping trips and to meet new people. It lets us try new things on for size to see how they fit.

It brings us life learning.

And it gives us unexpected moments of total bliss. Like our sewing lesson on Friday. I almost cancelled that; I almost said, We don't have time. I almost missed being doubled over laughing at approximately 11am with dear friends.

But while seeing just how beautiful Yes is, for us,

this week I realised

there is room for No.

No doesn't have to break my heart. Little Nos can happen, and joy can still come.

We can say no, once in a while, to homeschool group. Stay at home or go to the library instead.

We can say to an invitation, "Not today; howabout next week?" when we've got a delicious project on the boil.

My son can miss a music class now and then, or we can do some rearranging so that one particular day isn't filled with 2 and 1/2 hours of lessons and rehearsal.

I can say, See You Later, to my computer, when my girl comes up to me and says, "Can we do something right now? Together?"

I can let things go, in small day-to-day ways,

to fit in the Yeses that mean the most.

So that when my girl asks, "Can we make a cat suit? Can we write together? Can we build a house for my toys out of real wood?" I can say,

Of course!

So in celebration of the joy No 
and Yes 
can bring,

here is a taste of what both 
brought us this week:

art by a boy and by me
(and by a girl, but she said, Don't put it on your blog, Mum!)

me drawing him
him drawing me

finished shirts!

swinging at Lego League

planning with the team at Lego League

presenting a speech at Lego League

a writers workshop party

watching a play (created entirely by kids)

a game of Creationary 

and running around at Relay for Life

while a dad played with the band.

Lovely, no?

I mean, yes!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

scrambling out from under

Hey, wow. In my attempt to catch up on everyone's words, after having been Out for the Count, Snowed Under, Teetering on the Edge and so on for days, I found another wonderful post, this time by MamaTea, about a "bad day." Here 'tis. And it has links to other people sharing their hard times too. The key word being, Sharing. Opening up and seeking light.

I love the way the Universe works. That it (or rather, It?) knows that these are exactly the honest, real words I need to read right now. Thank you, Universe, and all the beautiful people striving, hoping, dreaming, in it.

We took the whole day off yesterday. I cancelled two activities, and two were already over for the term. That left us with the entire, huge, sun-filled and glorious day,

from the moment we woke, to the moment we went to bed,

to do whatever we liked.

It would be a massive understatement to say:

We had a good time.

What did we fill our day with?

Well, there was

music practice

(with my girl saying, "Mum I didn't know practice was so fun! I can't believe I ever thought it was boring!" She's writing music now, on staffs she draws in the back of her practice book. Gorgeous)

and maths

(my girl loves knowing her times tables. She knows even the 12s. She keeps asking me to test her. We do it in the car, over breakfast, just as she's going to sleep. She is so happy.

my boy LOVES his maths textbook. It covers what he needs while simultaneously going sideways and up. It shoots for the moon; it pushes you out of the box. He's calculating angles in his head, learning about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and two days ago he began exploring the Geometer's Sketchpad, which looks incredible. What a perfect fit this book is, for all of us (because you know I'm sitting next to him, figuring out the maths too!) )

and science experiments

(we got litmus strips and tested the acidity of a dozen foods, mostly dairy for a project my boy is working on. We checked ketchup and feta cheese and even checked our spit! It was so fun. Did you know that strawberry jam is as acidic as lemon juice? And that my son runs a bit alkaline, so I'm going to have to do some research on what THAT's all about. More learning to do :))

and drawing another book of made-up creatures

(this time my girl is writing details about each creature. Their diet, predators, what they look like, their mannerisms. It's beautiful and funny. Just like her)

and making a big big batch of pasta sauce
to freeze and make scrumptious lasagne with

(because we're trying to go whole food, natural food, made from scratch as much as possible. The result of more scientific research, for another project we're working on!)

and making a scrumptious lasagne

(which was delicious.  But not quite as delicious as the last one, which had home-grown spinach in it— a gift from a friend. Isn't that a beautiful gift to receive? Time to plant our vege garden, I think)

and snuggling with the cat and kitten

(who has gotten fat! It's like she's swallowed a balloon. We laugh at how she walks, but she doesn't care. She's impervious to all jibes and any kind of training (like, Don't get on that counter! Don't scratch that chair up! Don't climb on my head.) )

and reading reading reading

(my son is re-reading the Harry Potter series. He spends every spare moment inside his books. Reading is his down-time, his safe space, his quiet zen retreat. As it has been for me, all my life. Lucky me, him, us)

and writing

(my girl and I met up again for a writing date! It's becoming our regular thing, now. Yesterday my boy joined us to work on a presentation for Lego League. We sat writing together, and the joy rose up).

It was a beautiful day.

With nothing and everything in it.

We didn't even leave the house (except to check our experiments. We set up our Lab on the trampoline! As you do).

We were lifting ourselves back to health.

Or at least trying.

Every day being new and all,

filled with promise.

ps I'm experimenting with writing less and not fussing over each word for hours. How am I doing? More Less required? Just you wait. One day I really will just post a photo. And then I'll go and write about it in my diary, just to let the words out. They're like puppies, you know. Regular walks needed :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a simple thing

First, thank you.

You know what for :)

Second (but really, an equal first), I just read Kelly's post about a particularly wobbly day. I so appreciated her honesty and openness about not always getting it "right," about feeling uncertain and panicky. How lovely to read her words during a time I've felt particularly unsure and overwhelmed. (Words I could then tack on to all your supportive, lovely comments from my last post.)

One of the things that has felt hardest recently is the simple Getting To Places.

I'm not sure how I did it when we were at school, but I remember the tightness in my chest. Having to find the uniforms, prepare and pack the lunch, make sure the homework was in the bag, and the constant sense of "We'll be Late Late Late!". That tightness is with me a lot of the days now and I am seeking some way of letting some things go. Or, if that's not possible, moving towards an Acceptance of what simply Is.

I counted and my boy has 10 separate commitments or obligations to get to per week. That's the minimum, before visits with friends, trips to the library, concerts, sewing lessons, excursions, or frolics on the beach. Is it me, or does that seem like an awful lot??

The other day I got very flustered. The kids were supposed to be somewhere at 8.45 but at 8.30, having been told they needed to get up early, and with clocks in their rooms, they still hadn't left their snuggly beds and books. I got cranky. I said Cranky Mum things. You know the kind, where you use words like "Always," and "Never" and "Aaaaaagh!" Statements that are almost as unproductive as "Please Get This Day Off Me."

That night, as the dust was settling on the day, and I was saying good night to my boy, I apologised to him for being such a grump.

And this is what he said:

"Mum, you don't need to be sorry. You had a good reason to be cranky. Please don't apologise every time you get cross. You were right."

And then he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me 'til it was time to go.

Oh, the tears welled up.

Because I am

blessed, blessed, blessed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

finding balance

A whole week just went by. I was so very quiet here, wasn't I?

After a rough couple of weeks, where it felt like my flu would never ever end,

I finally got mostly better.

And found myself completely overwhelmed.

Yep, all the way through. Simply 'Being' felt like swimming through mud. I was exhausted at the very idea of trying to catch up on all the things I'd missed, let go, forgotten, not been able to respond to, wiped out by trying to meet all our commitments.

Struck by the need—rising suddenly and so clearly out of the muddle—

for balance.

For healing.

For time and silence and space.

For other things besides

rushing to get to classes, rushing to get Things Done, trying to keep the house from imploding,

trying to keep up with my own words here and with the words of others
(such precious others. Not responding to your words felt like I was letting you down. Which then fed the muddle and made my brain go even blanker).

My girl recently said,

"Mum, you spend so much time writing your blog, but no time writing stories."

It's true.

She also said,

"It feels lonely here." Here being the corner of the living room where I've spent so much of my free time on the computer—writing my blogwords. Good hours and hard hours and satisfying hours and sometimes anxious hours.

I think my time here in this corner might have become a bigger part of my life than it is supposed to be.

I also think our time Bustling and Hustling to do so many things—albeit fun, exciting, sociable, educational things—outside our home has become larger than it is supposed to be.

My girl told me last week that she really, really, really wants to write stories with me. And she wants to make toys with me. She wants to do art with me. She has so many ideas. So many things she wants to do.

But there's not enough time! she said. She got very serious. And kind of sad.

How can we do the things she wants to do?

For that matter, how can I do all the things I want to do?

Because we need time for our projects. All of us. I need to return to my stories. I need to create. Make art. Play music. Sit and talk for hours without worrying about the Next Thing on the schedule. Without trying to Do Everything.

So we talked about making more time. Finding time. Doing all the things we dream of. We talked about marking space around our classes and commitments,

placing a sign on the door saying,

"Creation in Progress!

Please Do Not Disturb."

It is what we need, and what we're going to do.

So, even though
Overwhelm hit hard this week

(and I fretted so much internally and was flustered with my kids and short with them, and simply Could Not Sleep sometimes),

Hope rose regardless. It rose from the dreams of my daughter, on her speaking her mind, and on her reminding me of my own dreams.

It lifted me high on Saturday.

On Saturday, we went to a wedding that was so utterly beautiful it made the Universe sing and feel right and I knew good things really were possible. During the reception (which was spent in a stunning backyard in the sunshine) there was also a walk to see flowers with new friends, and tree climbing, and so much smiling! I was with my family, and I was surrounded by loving energy. All of it was soul-filling.

On Sunday,

I finished the latest Septimus Heap novel. I drew; I made art for hours. I practiced piano for the first time in over a year. I went to a movie. By myself! Then did the grocery shopping (by myself!). That night I returned to bouncy children and dinner on the table, made by this beautiful man.

On Monday,

we had the whole day free. Nowhere to be. For the whole day.

Today, my daughter discovered she knows ALL her times tables. Every single one from the 2s to the 12s. She said, "My smile is too big for my face!"

I sat with her the whole time she practiced her tables, and as she did a maths assessment to see how she was doing. She is completely on track with her maths. She is ahead in a lot of places. More smiles! She feels like a superhero, I think. I am so insanely pleased, because this time a year ago, she was frozen solid, fearful of anything to do with numbers. What an amazing turn around.

I sat with my son while he worked away on angles in his maths book. Together we flew through the questions. He said, "I really like doing maths with you, Mum." I said, "We can do it like this every time, if you like." Yep, I think we'd like that.

Then, my boy went and did a bunch of maths games on the internet, while my girl and I

found our writers notebooks

and wrote stories together at the table.


There is literally no other word for how it felt.

And of course,

today we went to the beach. It was as beautiful as the last time we went. And the time before that.

Water + sand + space + laughing children + sunset + dog = 

I feel like I'm finding myself again.

I've started making those wild green smoothies that Soulemama and Jessica have raved about. The kids are loving them!

I've started The Artist's Way, which probably five separate people in my life have mentioned and suggested I look into. Finally, I have begun the journey.

I've started going to bed earlier. Like, around 10pm, instead of at 12am… 1am… 2am…ie: Sillier and Sillier Time. I actually think me not going to bed 'til the Wee Hours led to me getting so sick. No more, I say!

I spoke to three incredible women at the wedding, who are involved in a meditation/yoga method (school? movement? I'm not sure what the right word is). They were three of the most peaceful, accepting women I have ever met in my life.

And tomorrow night, I
will be starting a beginners course in their yoga/meditation practice. Which I found, here in this town, under my very nose. Thank you, Universe, for your beautiful serendipity.

I am finding a

balance, for me. And for my family.

I'm not sure what it will look like, ultimately. I'm not sure I'll be here as much, or perhaps in the same way.

I want to be able to write about our lives, but not miss living my life in the process. I've realised I need to do other things in my free time besides sit in this corner, writing my thoughts, visiting you all and saying hello. (Though it is an incredibly uplifting and inspiring way to spend my time).

Perhaps I'll write less often? Perhaps I'll find a way to write less? (I'm not sure if I'm capable of that!). Perhaps I could take less time to create a post, instead of the hours I usually spend (literally hours and hours. Crazy, I know). Perhaps I could be less of an editor, and just go with the words that appear under my fingertips? Perhaps I can comment on the posts of others in under 15 minutes per comment! (Again, it takes me ages.) Perhaps, once in a while, I'll even let a single photograph do the talking.

Could I really? Am I capable? Is it possible?

I think,


These are the words of my future.

Possible. Capable. I can.

Along with, I Will.

And Yes!

And Let's: Make, Do, Dream, Be, Achieve,


All while steady.

While breathing.

While balancing

from rock to rock to rock to rock.

In rhythm with myself.