Sunday, 31 July 2011

Trust

Littletree has gone on a self-imposed screen-free and sugar-free break, she asked me to hide her computer for a week and to put away her pocket-money so she can’t get sweets and asked me to get extra fruit and veggies.

All this came about while Purple was away in San Francisco for a couple of weeks earlier in the month. I think she just missed him a lot, and turned to spending a lot of time watching DVDs and eating “junk” food to fill in time. After about a week of watching rather a lot of movies, she announced that her head wasn’t feeling good and she was having trouble sleeping, and not feeling good in her body. She identified that it was because of spending too much time in front of a screen, and not eating well enough, and set about making a plan to get better.

Well, it’s been three weeks now, Purple is back, but Littletree is still avoiding sweets, and goes days at a time without turning her computer on. Today was the first time in ages she bought herself chocolates and sat down to watch a DVD.  Then she begged me to make a hearty veggie soup for dinner, with extra kale and garlic.

I’m so impressed with the way Littletree makes healthy choices for herself. She knows her body and is able to recognise what she needs, on her own. I firmly believe this is because she has a 100% unhindered, self-regulated diet. And most of all, because she is trusted.

Without going into the details of how it works, what it comes down to is having an intrinsic trust of the child. It's sub-consciously saying to the child: ‘Of course you'll make healthy choices and I absolutely trust you to do so’. From that, the child gets the message that she is trusted, and therefore trustworthy, and thus, can trust in herself to make the right choices - as all children will, given the right support.

I’ve been talking about this kind of trust all week, and struggling to really define it – it’s a kind of trust that’s bigger than ‘trust’; it’s something so intrinsic and whole-spirit. Then someone sent me this quote from Dr Jeremy Hayward:

"In order to communicate very openly with the world, you need to develop fundamental trust. This kind of trust is not trusting “in” something, but simply trusting. It is very much like your breath. You do not consciously hold on to your breath, or trust in your breath, yet breathing is your very nature. In the same way, to be trusting is your very nature. To be trusting means you are fundamentally free from doubt about your goodness and about the goodness of others."

While the prevailing cultural belief in our society is that children are inherently bad; that they won’t behave “properly” and that if given the slightest chance, they’ll only get up to no good, be spoiled, or worse. Children are treated based on the notion that they need to be trained, restricted and restrained to ensure that they can’t act on their inherent “badness”. Any parent or educator who isn’t constantly vigilant to reign in the inherent unruliness of children will be seen as negligent.

Trusting in children is about coming from an intrinsic belief that children are inherently good. And they *are*. Children truly are good, and they will behave in the manner they are expected to – not necessarily in the way we tell them to with words, but in they way we show them they are supposed to act. For the most part, we show them that they’re bad and going to get up to mischief. We show them that they are going to fall and hurt themselves, that they will eat nothing but sweets and junk if given half the chance.

But with true trust, in an environment that models respectful behaviour, children are perfectly wonderful, social beings. They do the right thing. They learn from their mistakes, rather than being protected from making them.

I trust Littletree. I trust her to go exploring in the candy aisle at the supermarket. I trust her to know how high she can safely climb. I trust her to behave like a sane, healthy, respectful human being. And she does.

DSC00004(Littletree on a climbing wall)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

14% Green

I’m branching out!

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time quickly realises that I like green. A lot.

I am frequently dubbed “green lady” or “green faerie”. Because, for the past ten years or so, I’ve worn exclusively clothes that are green.

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All my clothes are green – everything, right down to my bras and knickers. Well, I shouldn’t exaggerate; I don’t wear *only* green, I also wear Forest and Hunter and Sage and Emerald and Kelly green. Asparagus, Fern, Jungle, Moss, Pine, Shamrock, Bottle green, and occasionally Lime and Khaki.

My closet is a pleasing assortment of greens, it makes me happy to see all the shades, and feel like I’m in a lush forest.

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People frequently give me green things; just because they’re green. Or they assume some random lost object they’ve found *must* me mine, because it’s green.

So when I went around the village on the weekend sporting a new pair of brightly-striped rainbow socks, it caused quite a stir! I love my new socks, and they are, in fact, only 14.28% green!

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This could be the start of a revolution!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Science on the Beach

We had a super awesome homeschool group this week! We met down at our usual beach; it was a gorgeous sunny day with clear, blue skies. It was actually warm enough to take off all the layers and bask in the sun.

And there were dolphins swimming in the water, just a few metres from us!

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There was a much bigger turnout than we’ve been having lately; lots of old faces came along as well as some recently-joined members, so we had eight families.

Bella organised a bunch of science experiments for the kids to do, which was great. Science is, of course, hilarious fun!

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The kids learned about air pressure

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And surface tension and heat. You can’t pop a filled water balloon with a lit match

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Chemical reactions – so much fun that can be had with bicarb soda and vinegar!

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How oils and detergents react

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And made awesome swirly patterns in milk

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Once all the organised experiments had been demonstrated and tried out, the kids went crazy having a great time trying out random ideas, messing with the leftover bicarb, vinegar, food colouring, milk and balloons.

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The best part was seeing how a group of about 18 kids ranging in ages from 3 – 12 were all collaborating together. There was no need to remind anyone to share, no squabbles to sort out. The bigger kids helped the little kids, the little kids learned from the older ones. None of them felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t interact with anyone else simply because they were different ages or genders or levels of learning and understanding. It was just a group of kids having fun, and learning was purely incidental.

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Eventually, they all ran off to build cubbies in the bushes, and whittle sticks, and build sandcastles, and fill balloons with sand to make “eggs” to put in “nests”, and splash in the water, and watch the dolphins, and run around enjoying the sun…

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Hooray for unschooling!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Wet and Wild Winter

I know I recently complained about how impossibly freezing it was on Winter Solstice, but as the days have started getting longer, it’s just getting colder and colder. Brrrr!

So what do we do around here in the dark depths of winter when the days have been occasionally as cold as 18oC (65oF)?

We went to Wet’n’Wild Water Park. As you do!

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(Photos on this post courtesy of Littetree’s cell phone)

It’s lovely to go on weekdays in winter – hardly any people brave the cold so there’s no queues at all to get on the slides!

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Littletree and her friend Anasho spend hours racing up the stairs, sliding down

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Apparently the water on the slides is heated, but still, little green faeries aren’t game enough to try.

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They do have a whole lot of large whirlpool spas with hot water for those of us that don’t tolerate cold.

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Now I’m just hanging out for spring!

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Goddess of Op-Shopping

The ever-gorgeous Lady Demelza has become Littetree’s self-proclaimed personal shopper. Since Lady Demelza has an addiction to very much enjoys shopping at Op Shops (charity thrift stores), and has no daughters of her own, many awesome "oppie” finds that would otherwise have gone to waste on less-appreciative folk get bought up and sent to Littetree.

After all, what else are unofficial godmothers for?!

Littletree was super ecstatic to receive the latest care package in the mail – it’s always awesome to get stuff in the mail!

She eagerly opened up the package, to discover some cool books, a special silver necklace, and a fabulous assortment of really funky clothes.

Naturally, she then had to try them all on, and do about a million model-shoot poses.

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Apparently these new outfits will be vital in the costume design for the video clip of the upcoming hit single Littletree plans on releasing soon, and perfect for filling all the space we just cleared out of her closet when we went through and gave away all the old clothes she’s grown out of.

Because really, everyone should have their own personal op-shop goddess. Just make sure you remember to honour her as a true deity deserves; with gifts of maroon brocade and creamy chocolate.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Make lemon meringue pie!

Even though my own poor little lemon tree has been attacked by a wasp blight and hasn’t grown much in the two years since I planted it, it seems all my friends and neighbours have lemons in abundance, and my fruit bowl has turned into a lemon bowl!

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What else could I do?

Start with making a shortcrust pastry (I’m generally pretty random with pastries – just chuck some flour and stuff in a bowl, knead it up and roll it out), press it into a pie dish and pre-bake the base.

Juice and zest two large lemons.

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Then whisk together 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp cornstarch, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest and cook over a medium heat till just boiling. Then add in 2 tbsp butter.

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While the butter is melting, beat 4 egg yolks and slowly add in a scoop of the hot mixture, then pour the whole lot back into the pot, and keep whisking over a low heat until it’s thick.

Pour the filling into the pie crust.

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Now the fun part: we make meringue! Start by beating the 4 egg whites in a bowl. Best to use an antique SwiftWhip for this!

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Once the egg-whites start looking frothy, slowly add in a few tablespoons of sugar – keep whipping!

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At some point your arm starts getting tired, but you probably have to whip some more

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Keep whipping till the eggwhite mixture has about 5 Tbsp sugar, and is forming stiff peaks, like this:

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Then you can splop the mixture onto the lemon filling in the pie crust and put it in a (pre-heated) oven.

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Bake at 175C (350F) for about 10 minutes, decide it needs to be turned and left another 2 minutes… and then: voila!

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Ready to serve

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Best enjoyed with friends, and a little of my organic home-made strawberry liqueur.

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Yum! Now I just have to work out a gluten-free variation so I can make this for Ariad.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Flashback Friday–Travel Money

Here’s the next instalment in my Flashback series. One of the most frequent questions I get asked about travel is about money; how did I afford to travel?

When I started out travelling, I was driving around Australia in a 1979 Ford Cortina, and I was on disability pension, so as long as I lived frugally, I could get by day-to-day and I busked for extra cash. When I first decided to go overseas, I had a broken leg, and no money, but I did have an oven and a love of baking… so I spent a few months freezing in Hobart, Tasmania, baking organic goodies and selling stuff in Salamanca Markets. Didn’t take long before I had enough to fly to Germany…

Only once I’d forked out for the plane ticket, I found myself hobbling around Frankfurt (still recovering from the broken leg), with only $200 to my name, nowhere to stay, not knowing anyone, and not really speaking any German. And I’d left my trusty guitar back in Australia, so I couldn't even busk!

Just as I was feeling I’d made a terrible mistake, a funky-looking young woman came up to me handing out fliers for a party. I explained that I couldn’t speak German, and she asked me about my dreadlocks. Once we got to talking, and she realised I was essentially homeless, she invited me back to stay at a squat-house she lived in. Awesome!

So I had somewhere to stay, and for people who know how to live very simply, food isn’t hard to come by in a rich country. And for crafty mamas like myself (I had been blessed by a gift of some yarn from my aunt before I left Oz), hand-crafts are always an option.

I set to work crocheting like mad and I made up about a dozen water-bottle holders to sell, like this one

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Then I sat on the main shopping street in the city, crocheting more, and hoping people would buy some. I had a little sign that advertised 5Deutschmarks for each one (about US$3 at the time). I sat there most of the day, and no one bought any. Just as I was about to give up hope, a smartly-dressed businessman came up and asked me about them. He told me they were too cheap, and he’d buy one for 10DM, but only if I promised to change my sign to 10. I thought that was insane – way too expensive… But I did what he said. Within an hour I’d sold 7 more! And I learned a valuable lesson about economics.

So I made enough to get by. My main form of transport was hitch hiking, which is generally free, and in Germany, often results in free food, money, and accommodation as well as transportation. I never paid for accommodation; always “couch surfing” with people I met, or else camping out in forests or under bridges. Yep, I was 20, free, and a little crazy!

At some point, I was given an amazing gift: a backpacker guitar! It was in bad condition, but I rebuilt it, cut a new soundboard, made it good as new, and painted it all pretty. So I was back in the busking business!

I busked my way all across Asia with my funky guitar, hitchhiking, camping, and living very simply on a budget of around $3-$5/day. Overland travel meant I didn’t need to spend on expensive airfares and I got to see the world along the way.

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(Playing my funky guitar in Nepal, Age 21)

Sadly, my awesome guitar was stolen in India, and I didn’t have enough money to replace it. But I was blessed again – an awesome friend went around at the rainbow gathering I was at asking for donations to raise money for me to get a new guitar! It ended up not being enough for a guitar, but I could get a mandolin! And thus, I learned a new instrument, and travelled with that busking around India and Africa.

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(Playing Mandolin in Lesotho, age 22)

I did stop for a while in a few places here and there working, but not really earning much. After I got pregnant with Littletree, Purple went to Israel for a few months, working like a mad thing to save money, and we lived off that (again, living very frugally) travelling around Latin America till Littletree was a year old. I think our budget then was around $15/day for the whole family.

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In Peru, I spent a large chunk of the last of our savings on buying hand-made silver jewellery, which I then sold for a tidy profit in northern California, which sustained me through the expenses of traveling in the US and Canada. Littletree and I also teamed up with a group driving from Mexico to British Colombia, and we’d do group busking.

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Our best effort was an afternoon playing music at the Grand Canyon – we got about $50 in half an hour.

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Now I make money through my writing, and birthwork. I write articles for Essence of Life, which brings in a bit, and when I travel to births, the tickets and expenses are generally covered by my clients, so while I don’t really make money out of it, our travel is paid.

In general, we live pretty simply, we stay in cheap places, we eat local food, we camp a lot. It’s mostly about living with less, prioritising the truly important things, and trusting that the universe will provide everything that we need.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Adventures in Brisbane

Littletree and I went to a SameSame LGBTIQ meet-up picnic in Brisbane on the weekend, it was so much fun! 07 samesame bris meet

It was great to connect with people, and meet internet-friends in real life.

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(Photo from Chad)

I made Guinness muffins and goji truffles, and a few dips to share; super yum! The sweets went down so well!

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(photo from Hazy)

Someone brought a badminton set, and Littletree got into playing with some of the guys

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Littletree made friends with the other little girl; the two of them had loads of fun getting up to crazy antics

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Until her new friend bet Littletree that she couldn’t climb to the top of a light pole. Of course, Littletree easily and quickly scaled the pole, touched the top and slid down again.

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(Photo from Chad)

Grinning after her winning attempt, Littletree said she felt guilty taking his money, saying “he made that bet, but he didn’t know I could do it, and I knew.” Too cute! We convinced her that she’d earned her $5 fair and square, it was hilarious!

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(photo from Hazy)

In the end, Littletree didn’t want to leave, so we’ll definitely try to get to the next one :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Loren–Who Walked This Path

Last week one of my friends needed people to be in his new music video, so I went along to help out.

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I love this song, Loren used to come to the village life drawing classes  and play his music for us while we were drawing; it was awesome! So it was nice to come out and support him in making his art, and great to hang out with everyone down by the river :)

Check it out:

Who Walked this Path–Loren

Edited to add a link to Loren’s website: http://www.loren.com.au/loren.php