Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Finally submitted my application to the HEU to homeschool Jack - posted yesterday - now the waiting game to see if the application is up to scratch for at least provisional registration. Have been enjoying spending time with the kids, trying a few things out - basically what is referred to as deschooling and then unschooling.

We read together, watch You Tube videos, utilise online kids programs such as Clever Dragons and Reading Eggs (interactive learning fun for the boys - and Lily too!), CD Roms, jigsaws and most importantly a serious amount of time creating amazing things out of Lego.

Recently decided to get blood tests done to check for vitamin deficiencies - been mucking around with families diet for years now due to allergies and intolerances and have seen huge improvements being gf/cf and failsafe.

Jack was a shining star - said the needle didn't even hurt and sat so still while the nurse took 5 tubes of blood off him! Last time we had to get blood was a fight and his Dad had to hold him still :) As a reward we bought him a new wooden domino rally set we spotted in the chemist window on the way to get a new water pistol. Couldn't resist the wooden block set for Tom and a set of fairy wings for Lily either!

Our days are filled with spending time together and answering questions as the kids come up with them or I see a photo or video on facebook and it starts us off on a learning journey :)

Blood test results tomorrow - hope it's good?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A simpler life!

I keep thinking lately about my babies - cannot believe my eldest will be 7 at the end of this coming September - I still remember cuddling him to sleep and trying the letting him cry and it breaking my heart - couldn't do it - all my babies get a cuddle when they need one!

Read this post just now and it had me in tears - how have we lost natural parenting and why is it so hard to find a way back?

As we embrace natural learning in our homeschooling life I wish I had had the courage to do what felt right and not follow the advice of some of the parenting books I chose to read and believe briefly when my eldest was a baby. Our third is very different - we are more relaxed as parents and she is having a fabulous time growing up with two big brothers.

There is too much pressure on families these days to have big houses, room per child shows wealth, new cars, boats, TV's gadgets etc ..... we have become so materialistic....I want more, indeed I need less....I was happy with my 7 year old mobile phone (only bought a new one because I moved country and my old one wouldn't work!), a TV that I don't have to sit 50ft away from because it is 'too' big.

I crave a simpler life with a plot of land, an easy care home with space for a vegetable garden and chickens.....not for me is suburbia and polite conversations with neighbours over fencelines.....need a little space and quiet to be a family!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Socialisation, anxiety and fear of dogs!

Today we attempted some socialisation as a family - we had been invited to a 41st Birthday BBQ (one of the ladies from my husband's work). I always get very tense prior to a planned social event, anxiety kicks in, I feel sick, clammy and try hard to think of any excuse not to go and usually we don't go. We decided this time to be brave and go.

She had two kids who Jack and Tom dutifully went off to play with, Tom saying, "Maybe they'll want to be friends with us?" They had a great time collecting eggs, jumping on the trampoline and ultimately watching some TV. Only horrible bit was towards the end as we were all showing the strain when the girl thought it would be funny to take Jack's cap. He politely and repeatedly asked for it back and she refused and kept running away - she wanted to put it on his head for him! Jack got very upset because he couldn't understand why she wouldn't give it back because he had asked her really nicely. I had to explain to this girl who when i questioned her, said "We were just having fun!" I replied, "It's not fun if the other person isn't enjoying the 'game'!" Hat was returned to Jack and she promptly ran off with Tom's - lesson not learned and cross Me got upset with her meanness and pointed out that making a 3 year old with asthma chase after you is just mean :( I just don't get why people have to be mean to each other.

Much of the conversation was around school bullying stories (a great reason to homeschool - we didn't bring it up), positive racism towards aborigines and lack of action by police in some nasty situations (so not having a night out in Gladstone's one night club), diets (obvious that we weren't eating hosts food-with multiple allergies and intolerances we never expect to be catered for and always take snacks for us and the kids).  Autism is considered a disease by one of the guests - so we didn't take that conversation any further either.

Nice people, nice plot (lovely tour of the fruit trees, chook house, introduced to the cows and horse) - makes me want a lifestyle plot of my own with veg garden, pear and apple trees and room for a couple for cows, pigs, chickens and maybe a goat or pony. We found a dead bird of prey - possibly a falcon?

They had two friendly dogs and an elderly cat. Problem: Lily freaked out crying at the dog - seems her encounter a few months back with 3 untrained labradors may well have had more of an impact than I realised - damn! Had noticed that hearing the neighbours dog barking had been causing her to run away of late (but then the vacuum cleaner, big trucks, motorbikes and blender cause a similar reaction at the moment) maybe it is just a temporary noise fear?

When leaving we saw an enormous eagle? eating a dead kangaroo by the roadside - easily stood as tall as Lily!

Treated the kids to some gluten and dairy free ice-cream I spotted in the fridge at the local garage on the way home - and thanked them for being so well-behaved!

If you are not a regular follower of my blog - I should explain that we have Aspergers in our family and social situations are a challenge for us and we can now tick off socialisation for the month on our homeschool checklist!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Homeschool transition

We slowly continue the transition from distance education to natural learning. The homeschool Australia facebook page continues to be truly inpsirational. There is no right way to homeschool. There are so many different ways simply because all situations are different, each family is different, the children are individuals. I only hope that I emerge from this transition having some clue about where we are headed as a homeschool family.

Presently, we are working on strengthening the family unit after a traumatic year and a half post September earthquake in Canterbury, moving to a small rural community with close knit school of less than 10 children on to a move across the Tasman to Queensland. For a while we were lost and what we thought we needed we don't. Husband has read through the information on natural learning and as he sees how motivated the kids are and how happy Mum is at the moment he can see that it is right for us at this moment in time. Who knows about the future - we can't predict it we can only work with the path in front of us and try to make the best decisions for us at the time!

I have read so much about homeschooling these last 4 weeks and in the previous 4 years when we first thought it might be an option, that truly my head hurts. I have finally handed in our resignation to BSDE and am posting their resources back tomorrow (Unit 3 never even got opened this term - we switched off around Easter holidays sometime).

My next challenge is to finish writing Jack's home education application and plan for the next 10 months or so. After 10 months I am required to submit a report on his progress. We hope that we will be accepted for homeschooling. We are leaning towards a Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unschooling approach and will use the next few months to find our rhythm!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dinosaurs, mosquitos, turtles and Kookaburras!

What a wildlife day today was!
First we had the Erth's dinosaur petting zoo show. Pretty cool - no big dinosaurs as we were expecting, no T-Rex or Brachiosaurus. They had baby dinosaurs that the kids were encouraged to stroke, a gigantic dragonfly, small friendly one - can't remember it's name and then a Lianasaurus that was found in Victoria in 1999 and named after the discoverers daughter. Jack now desperately wants to discover dragon fossils so he can name them!

I was driving home past the gates of the Botanic Gardens when I decided an impromptu first visit was in order. We bought turtle pellets and fed most of it to the ducks - we tried to feed the turtles but they were trampled/swamped by the ducks. The map the information centre gave us was useless and we got very lost/disorientated whilst being attacked by mosquitos. Friendly brush turkeys and close encounters with Kookaburras made up for that though. Kids had fun on the playground and we all went home happy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pet a dinosaur?

Been super busy doing nothing much today!
Really looking forward to tomorrow though as taking the kids to see Erth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre ~ very excited.

Found this video on You Tube - wonder if we'll be lucky enough to be sat on the stage?

Monday, May 7, 2012

I love Pinterest - sometimes you find great ideas, sometimes just an awesome picture. Tonight I found an image I really liked - I followed the chain of links to find the artists website and her Etsy store.
I ended up purchasing three prints because they are so beautiful and for three very different reasons.

1. The first image is "The Reader" and is apt as we encourage our 6 year old to read.
2. The second is because we really all should make time to sit down and just listen to the sounds of the world we live in - preferably the sounds of nature.
3. The dragon nest hidden in the box with the newly hatched dragon will be for Jack as he is infatuated with dragons and is determined to find evidence of their existence whether fossils or real lives ones. His favourite movie at the moment is "How To Train Your Dragon" - had a fabulous time watching the stage show in Brisbane a few weekends back.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Want to share two quick sales stories with you.

1. At market on Saturday a lady came in to my stall looking for a birthday card for a male. She had a quick look and found L181 Owl Birthday "Happy Birthday Too-Woo!" Perfect because the male in question sculpts owls for his wife who loves owls. Panic as the customer spotted the recipient heading their way from another nearby stall - she asked for a pen, wrote it there and then hiding behind me whilst her husband and his wife did an impromptu Happy Birthday singing - she gave him the card and then he opened it on the spot. Customer paid and I am left with a funny story about the quickest ever sale to recipient Phoenix story!

2. Although very tired on Friday night I decided to make one more women's necktie from a 100% silk tie I had washed but hadn't gotten around to pressing - I wasn't sure whether to add a button or not to the design when I remembered the gold buckle that I had happened to replace the removed stones with some beads I had from a necklace I had deconstructed. Worked prefectly and I stitched it into place. Finished it at 11.30pm and went off to bed happy. A lady spotted it on one of my stands, tried it on and bought it that afternoon - she was very happy with the colours and it suited many items of clothing in her wardrobe. I am once again reassured as I make each one that they will find that someone who falls in love with and just has to have. Same happened on the Sunday with a gorgeous blue one, but the lady was out of cash and has decided to take a chance and wait for the next market (hoping she'll email/phone me before then).

 Next market will be my local again and then a double weekend of Arts and Crafts - so will need to make lots more before then so there are plenty for people to choose from and see what I can create - custom orders would be easier rather than me just choosing and making up individual ties!

In the meantime view creations old, new and sold at

To market, to market....

Have had a fabulous weekend of markets sharing the Phoenix love and spreading the word about my creative work with ties and buttons. Saturday saw my first afternoon/evening market which was a challenge having the lighting good - one strip set of lights worked really well but the camplight did not - glad I had a hand torch to show people what they were looking at! Had just started setting up when  huge gust of wind nearly blew my gazebo away - a couple walking by grabbed a leg each while I attached water bottle weights to each leg - no further gust to test my weights - oh well next time! Home by 8.30pm and left car packed for the early morning start - up at 4am for a set-up by 7.30am at the Calliope Historical River Village market day. Had a site right next to the toilets - handy for my 6 year old son who was helper for the day.

Great days with lots of new people introduced to Phoenix Trading and a few new fans on my facebook page and website Ties'n'Buttons. Going to need to order more stock and also get crafting - especially the button rings as at $4 these are a great little novelty buy for ladies of all ages - most customers leave wearing their rings :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Latest upcycled necktie creation from TiesnButtons!

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is craft womens neckties using mens neckties and buttons, buckles, brooches and lace. Tomorrow I am off to market to show some more of my creations. I have a huge collection of ties, new, preloved and vintage, silk and polyester. I also have a rather large collection of vintage, new and preloved buttons in all colours. As well as making the upcycled neckties for women I also make button jewellery including necklaces, bracelets, rings, hair clips, brooches and ear-rings. I wear what I make and always get compliments on my styles. Ties and buttons are fun to wear and will make a statement!

I have many designs, colours, styles available and am more than happy to take custom orders if there is a colour you need or an outfit to complement and add a WOW! is my website where you will find links to Etsy or Made-It and also a gallery of sold images.

Latest creation used a 100% silk tie in navy and burgundy with a beautiful gold swirly pattern throughout (has photographed red rather than burgundy and a brighter blue than the navy it really is) - too late for natural light. This one uses an old belt gold coloured belt buckle which I have glued beads into since someone saw fit to remove whatever was in there. (engraved with zechoslov.252 on the back - czech gold?) No fancy knots required to wear this one - each tie is carefully folded into its design and then neatly handstitched by me using a cotton colour to suit the tie (burgundy in this case) and no stitches are visible from the front and I even try to hide the reverse stitches as much as possible. A snap fastener is then sewn to either end of the design/tie/knot for easy on/off
Follow me on facebook to see latest designs and for special offers from time to time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cars - hate them!

I hate my Kia Carnival - just got it back from garage yesterday after they put in a new gearbox (under 3 month warranty) driving around today and whilst changing gear heard the most horrendous noise and car shuddered to a halt and refused to move - got out of the car to check the engine hadn't fallen out! Wouldn't have been so bad but I was due to pick the boys up across town in less than 30min. Phoned the garage who sold us the car and they came out with a lender and rang RACQ to get the Kia towed - managed to get the children with minutes to spare!

Heron Island

Had an interesting weekend away on Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Was rough weather for the boat trip out of port Gladstone. All 5 of us struggled to hold our stomach contents in (youngest fell asleep, middle chucked then fell asleep, eldest looked a little green but watched underwater videos anyhow) me and husband put a very brave face on it - eating ginger may have helped a little!
Beautiful island even in the rain - still warm so much snorkelling was dond by husband and 6 year old who has learnt very quickly - they had a fab time. As soon as we stepped into the water a black tipped reef shark approx 1m long popped over to say a quick hello! Saw a few fish with my two youngest just standing knee deep in the shallows - 20 month old got very good at spotting the black and white striped ones.

Took a few photos - still getting used to all the modes on our new camera - seems the beach, landscape and underwater modes take good pictures, however the spport mode for moving wildlife and kids as well as the portrait ones need a little work. The kids had fun walking on the beaches - was a little hard on the feet the coral beach - still a few sharper bits! We tried twice to spot turtle hatchlings but no luck - it is the end of the season so we weren't expecting too but it would have been nice. Fell asleep listening to the not so quiet sounds of the mutton birds first night and a staff/research student party the second night (preferred the mutton birds!) Woke to second power cut - but this time no water - so no showers after a last dip in the sea or toilet flushing or settling of accounts until the last 30min.

Thank goodness the weather was calmer for our return trip - definitely planning on going back - in fact dear husband is looking at a dive package for July!