Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Presents

I bought Littletree a Christmas present this year. She was so excited about the idea of Christmas, though she'd never experienced it before and didn't really know what it was all about.

I bought her some second-hand Bratz dolls on eBay, which was again a process for me, because though I went through the acceptance of Barbies, Bratz was another challenge.

In the end, once I'd thought about it, I realised that my respect for Littletree was more important than my own petty judgements about a doll.

Christmas in itself was a bit of a challenge for me, having not celebrated it at all for years, and being quite the anti-consumerist.54 xmas morning tree

But I had this image in my mind of how excited Littletree would be to find a present under the tree when she woke up on Christmas morning. So after she went to sleep, I tidied up her playroom, and set up her little Christmas tree with the presents underneath. (I wrapped the Bratz in a piece of sparkly material from my sewing bag, and a neighbour gave her a present as well).

So the trap was set. I got up before Littletree (as usual) and pottered around the house, camera at the ready, waiting for her to wake up and see the Christmas surprise.

Littletree came downstairs all sleepy-eyed and grumpy, but when she saw the christmas tree:

55 xmas morning sequoia

56 xmas morning  sequoia



She could hardly contain herself! She carefully read the tags on the presents, saw that they were both for her, and started opening them.

57 xmas morning

First she opened the one from the neighbour; ironically a winter hat.

59 xmas morning  first present

Then she opened my present. See the look on her face as she got the first glimpse of what was inside:

61 xmas morning  present opening


64 xmas morning  bratz

She ran over to me and just about bowled me over with a huge hug, saying "thank you, thank you, thank you!"

65 xmas morning  bratz

It was a great morning :) Littletree spent a while playing with her new Bratz, immediately undid their fancy hairdoes, gave some haircuts, drew on some bindis and tattooes and jewelry...

Purple and I made Levivot (latkes - potato patties traditional for Hannukah), and we did some work in the garden, and hung out with our friend Zell who is visiting.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

New Home

We bought a house! :)

I know, that seems fast. It is. Regular readers might remember my post from two months ago about looking for a house to buy,  and another posts from one month ago about giving up on buying a house and deciding to rent in town.

Well, right when we decided to give up on house hunting for the immediate future, and put it on hold for six months or so, we locked our deposit money into a term deposit.

Less than a week later, we decided to have a nice drive to a village on the other side of the mountains... and fell in love with it.

Yes, that was the day of the car crash.

Two days later we went back to the village to see a house... and bought it on the spot. Well, we made an offer, and the offer was accepted the same day. With a 14 day settlement

The house is on a two thirds of an acre (2700M) block, that is fully rainforested, in a small village. It's a real fairy forest :)

It has an enormous kitchen

42 new house kitchen

A huge open living room (that is the exact same size as our entire house now)

40 new house livingroom

Three large bedrooms with built-in closets

43 new house bedroom

A long balcony looking out over the rainforest

45 new house balcony

It even has a fully-self contained one bedroom apartment downstairs that we can rent out if we like.

The lawyers managed to rush everything through, we got finance from the bank, a building and pest inspector came out and gave us the all-clear...

So yesterday we got the keys and started moving in - exactly 28 days from when we first looked at the place!

We can't move in properly yet, since the phone isn't connected (we're having a big drama with the phone company, but I'll save that for another post).Final settlement isn't for another three weeks, but we did a little cleansing and opening ceremony.

53 new house family

I burned white sage and smudged the house with the smoke, which clears out old energies, and purifies things.

51 ela smudging

Littletree had a go of smudging as well, while we chanted to great spirit.

50 seq smudging

Then we sat in circle with our friend, Zell, who is staying with us. We called in blessings on the house, and toasted with our home-made fruit liqueurs.

52 new house ceremony

So, we have a new home to move into, and we'll be leaving our cute little hobbit house behind.

Now it's Christmas morning, and I'm waiting for Littletree to wake up and find her presents under the tree!

Monday, 22 December 2008


Last night was the first candle lighting for Hannukah, so of course we lit candles and sang songs, but the most important part of the Hannukah tradition is Sufganiot - jelly doughnuts!

Naturally, I make my own. From organic, whole flour, biodynamic butter, unrefined sugar and raw milk of course ;)

Littletree and I had lots of fun making them;

First make the dough, let it rise and then roll it out:

29 sufganiot rolling

Then put jam in the middle (we did half with raspberry jam and half with nutella)

30 sufganiot jam

Stick two halves together and shape them

31 sufganiot shaping

Then let them rise, and finally; cook them!

33 sufganiot cooking

Sequoia was playing when I finished cooking them all, and check out the look on her face when I called her over to see the finished product:

34 sufganiot final product

Of course, Littletree had the most important job of all; taste testing!

37 sufganiot taste test

She couldn't give a final verdict, since her mouth was so full ;)


Friday, 19 December 2008


This week was the final meet up of our local home school group for the year, and we had a candle-making workshop.

There's a couple who set up a candle-making stand at the markets, and we thought it would be a nice idea to get them to come to do candle-making at the homeschool group. It turned out that the couple are the caretakers who live at the hall where we have our meet ups!

So they set up their tables and wax pots, and we had a huge turn out of families arriving from all over the shire and beyond to make candles.

The process was making tapers by dipping a wick successively in different coloured pots of melted wax.

20 HS candlemaking

Then once the taper is big enough (or in most cases, too big), the people who ran the workshop would slice and shape them into amazing designs.

23 HS candlemaking

It was a load of fun - I even made two of my own.

22 HS candlemaking

Purple joked that we should make 44, as Hannukah is coming up next week!

Here's Littletree with her finished creation:

26 HS candlemaking

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

My Hairy Neighbour

As if the crazy big ant wasn't bad enough, yesterday Littletree looked out the bedroom window to see this "little" guy on the eaves:

12 spider

I wasn't crazy enough to put something next to him for scale, but he is about 15cm (6") leg-span. Thank goodness for zoom; yikes!

I closed the window quick smart though, and just opened it a crack to take the photo before I closed it again. Littletree was really interested in it and spent quite a while studying it through the window. (It's just a huntsman I think)

In any case, we should be getting possession of our new house soon, so we'll be saying goodbye to this hairy scary.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

Littletree has spent most of her life either in third world countries or in non- Christian countries, so until now, the concept of Christmas has been mostly unknown to her.

Of course, now that we live in a Western country, and there's tinsel and pictures of Santa Claus pretty much everywhere, she's cottoned on. Last year we avoided the whole idea by skipping off in December to a rainbow gathering, but this year, she's been talking to other kids, and she's all excited about the idea of "going to Christmas".

I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, since her father is Jewish, I'm an Animist and Littletree herself has announced that she's Hindu, we don't really have much to do with Christian holidays. The over-commercialised aspect of Christmas rubs me entirely the wrong way, not to mention the bastardisation of pagan holidays and old European traditions.

Still, Littletree is excited about Christmas. I asked her what she thinks it is and she said "pretty shiny tinsel, Christmas trees and Santa" I asked her what Santa is and she said, "he's that old Christmas guy with red clothes."

Littletree doesn't have any concept of Santa coming and giving presents in the night (an idea I wouldn't perpetuate anyway), or even of expecting presents for Christmas. She merely wants to have tinsel and a tree to decorate in the house.

I thought we could decorate a tree in the garden, but what with us not having any smallish, reachable trees near our house, and the torrents of rain we've been getting, I bought her a little plastic Christmas tree in the dollar shop, and some tinsel and baubles from the op shop.

She LOVES it.07 xmas tree 09 xmas tree

Littletree spent ages decorating the tree, and putting baubles up around the whole house. I thought the tree would be put on a shelf in the corner, but Littletree has been playing with it constantly; she gets it down and sets it up in the middle of the living room all the time :)

Of course, I got a book from the library about traditions and holidays from cultures around the world so we can learn about Christmas and all the variations. We'll talk about the religious Christian aspect, as well and the old European traditions, and the pagan basis for things. We'll talk about the secular aspects of Christmas and how the religious Jews view the holiday, (the extreme of whom reserve the day for tearing the whole year's supply of toilet paper!) and solstice, Diwali, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, etc.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Queensland's ailing education system

In my happy travels around the Internet, I came upon this article in the Queensland Courier Mail.

THE Bligh Government has sent out an SOS over the state's ailing education system after admitting the model it has overseen for more than a decade is not working.
Premier Anna Bligh yesterday announced an education specialist from Victoria would conduct a wide-ranging review into Queensland's increasingly poor academic performance.
Queensland Year 4 students finished last in science and seventh in maths out of Australia's eight states and territories in an international mathematics and science study, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Even students from Russia and the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan performed better...

The article goes on, and feel free to read the full article (here) but I thought the first part was interesting to have a look at.

First of all; yeah the Queensland education system isn't working. Duh. They actually tried out this failing system for over a decade. which basically means a whole generation of kids were "educated" under a system that even the government says is crap.

Next point; Queensland, students finished 8th and 7th out of eight states in science and maths respectively. At face value, that sounds pretty bad, but does anyone else see the irony here?

If you're going to rate anything on a scale of first to last, then *someone* has to be last. If Queensland actually manages to get their kids to ace their tests next year, then some other state will be last. It's never ending. And it's EXACTLY the same scoring system they apply to students in the classes. No matter how fantastic the children are, there's always going to be one kid who's "the worst".

One might have hoped the government might employ someone intelligent enough to see that and simply stop the whole ranking system. Home schooling anyone?

And lastly, "Even students from Russia and the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan performed better."

Racism anyone? Classism?
It makes me so pissed off, I can't even say anything about that. It speaks for itself really.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Yikes! Attack of the Killer Ant

This lovely guy crawled through our living room just before:

05 ant

Yes, that's a real live ant on a regular old CD. It hasn't been photoshopped in any way, except that I cropped it and adjusted the contrast.

Long time readers will remember that we had an ant like this before, but this one is even bigger.

It crawled onto my hand just as I snapped this shot, and I took it outside.

Anyway, it's a really great photo :)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Liberated Learning Meetup

Yesterday we went to a gathering of local Liberated Learning members, at a park by a river at the beach.

It was a great time, the kids got to swim in the shallow water,

01 ll meetup

Play on the playground,

02 ll meetup

And have a fun picnic

03 ll meetup

It was a fantastic day, and most people stayed into the evening :)

Sunday, 30 November 2008


78 arrrHere's pirate Littletree. She made this pirate get-up for craft at the library storytime this week :)

It's been a pretty busy week for us, dealing with the wreck of Little Blue Sky, and searching for a new car.

(Anyone know of an early 90's model Toyota Corolla Hatch for sale. Preferably a 5-speed manual 1.8L in metallic green, with rego, let me know! Well, anything in that variety of cars will do, but that's what I really want.)

And... we put an offer on a house to buy, which was accepted. So we wait for the building inspection and for the lawyers to sort out the sale. details to come!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Drowning in Printer Packaging

My replacement printer arrived, which was nice. The packaging was incredibly funny though.

It came in a MASSIVE box with this printed on the top:


"You'll like what's NOT in this carton

You'll like what you don't see: NO plastic peanuts, NO polyfoam, NO loose mess - nothing that isn't conscious of the environment.

This carton is made from recycled materials. We recycle our own cardboard and paper to form part of the recycled cardboard used to manufacture cartons..."

Well, it all sounds very nice, BUT, the printer itself came in it's own box, which was inside this box.


So, basically, the fancy environmental, recycled box was just a waste of a box for no good reason. CIMG5093

Then we open the printer box to be greeted by a paper warning me not to touch the print head and to be careful of the ink cartridges.

So I took that paper out, and what was under it?

Another paper warning me to be very careful of the print head and the ink cartridges.

Sounds serious! I started getting nervous about the handling of said print head and ink cartridges!


So under the second warning paper, the printer was encased in polystyrene and wrapped in a plastic bag

I took the plastic bag off, to reveal...

CIMG5096Another plastic bag.

Once that was off, the printer was covered in protective plastic strips, with a warning notice about loading the paper.


So much for "environmental" packaging!

I opened up the manual to begin set-up, and the first page was... you guessed it! Another warning about handling the print head and ink cartridges! CIMG5100

Then I opened the front of the printer, as per the instruction manual, only to be greeted by...


Just in case you missed the first thousand warning notices!

Anyway, I got through the set-up pretty easily, and so far so good, it all works nicely :) It has all kinds of fun features, the best being that it works through our wireless network, so I don't have yet another cable tangling up my jungle of cables, and I can print from wherever I'm sitting with the laptop; even out in the garden!

And by pure coincidence, the printer totally coordinates with my laptop! shiny silver with glossy black trim! I hadn't even thought of that part when I chose which printer to buy, but it's a nice bonus :)


Wednesday, 26 November 2008


It's a miracle.

Yesterday, Littletree, Purple and I went to look at some properties, and on the way home, we had an accident.

It all happened very fast. I lost control of the car around a bend; we slammed into an embankment at about 80kph. The car bounced back, span around 360 degrees and went off the road into a gully.

The car stopped, barely an inch from rolling down a 20M drop. 

74 crash

Amazingly, the car didn't roll off the cliff, and all three of us were able to clamber out of the car and walk away unscathed.

Some passersby stopped and helped us out; we were pretty shaky and in shock.

We had to wait a while for the roadside assistance service to come out, then wait a while longer for a tow truck to come, and then even longer for a different tow truck to come and the police to come.

It was quite an event for the truck to winch the car out of the gully and tow it away; the police needed to close the road while that was happening.

After the car was out, one police officer went over to see what had saved us from going over the cliff. He stood there shaking his head, and then looked at me and said "someone was really watching out for you; I can't see anything here that stopped you from tumbling down the cliff"

It was really scary looking down over that drop. There wasn't anything I could see that would have stopped us from rolling over. I guess we were being watched over, that's for sure.

It sucks that our beloved Little Blue Sky is now dead, and I had to pay a fortune for the tow truck, and now we need to buy a new car, but thankfully, we weren't hurt. (well, I banged my knee, which is giving me some trouble, but nothing serious).

Even more lucky, our friend, who is borrowing our van, Sunshine from us, came to our rescue and picked us up, and arranged for us to rent a car from a friend of hers, so we already have a new, temporary car. I've dubbed her "Murky".

75 murky

We don't really like Murky all that much, but at least she's sort of green, and at least we have a car to drive until we can buy a new one!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Home School Camp

We went away for our home school group camp this weekend, which was a wonderful finish to a crap week :)

The camp was at a caravan park on the beach at Brooms Head, about 2.5 - 3 hours south of here. We packed up the car on Friday morning and drove down with Princess and Queen.

Brooms Head is a beautiful camp site, we had spaces to set up right on the beach, overlooking a beautiful lagoon.

62 camp

It was pretty windy, but the weather stayed fine and sunny the whole time, which was lovely.

The experience totally concreted the idea of living in community for me. We were about ten families, and for the most part, the kids were all running around together, doing fun kid stuff, learning and having a fantastic time. They were totally free, and there was always enough adult eyes kept on them that I didn't have to worry about hovering over Littletree every minute.

The kids played a lot on the beach, exploring, collecting cool shells, rocks, seaweeds, sponges, urchins and starfish, building sandcastles and running around.

63 camp beach

We all had some nice swims in the lagoon, which was perfect, as it provided a nice safe area for the littlies to swim in without waves or deep water. There were loads of big pelicans that we got a pretty close look at as well.

65 camp beach

The kids also loved the steep grassy slope that rose behind the camping area. They spent ages rolling down the hill, and then sliding down on their boogie boards.

They also set up an elaborate roadworks game with toy witches hats and stop signs and stuff. It was great to see how the kids worked out all the rules of the game. They even played for a while at setting up a little roadblock on the driveway past our tents. The few drivers that came through were happy to play along :)

61 camp traffic

We did another weaving workshop, which was great, I made a little basket out of copper wire that Littletree propptly commandeered as her own.

70 camp weaving

Funnily, there was a playground at the camp site, but it went mostly ignored, the children shunning the swings and slides in favour of scrambling around the rocks and exploring the beach and playing in nature :)

We had a great weekend and I'm glad to be home and enjoying the sunshine.