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An off grid Christmas in a yurt in New Zealand

7 December, 2016

I’m sitting on the sofa with a redbush tea and a bar of chocolate, feeling completely shattered, creaky boned weary.

Do you ever feel like life just bites you on the bum sometimes? When decisions that you know are right end up being tough ones?

We aren’t busy with the normal festive stuff, the bustling about with shopping and Christmas prep, but we are overwhelmed by the rush of summer and new farm animals and building infrastructure and other elements of off grid life.

In fact, I’d say this month has been one of the hardest since going off grid. The work has just felt absolutely relentless. Our new animals have been escaping, and we’ve put in a new bit of driveway so people can more easily visit (Tim borrowed a digger), as well as trying to put together the fanciest AirBNB yurt ever.

I had also set myself the challenge of Nanowrimo – a first draft of a novel in one month. In a way writing my 50,000 words late at night and in stolen corners of the day meant I had something to look forward to each day, but it also put on a lot of unnecessary pressure! When I look back on this last stressful month I’m like – why in the blazes did I keep doing nanowrimo?!?!?!?!?! The truth is, it felt important to me, to prioritise something that I get a lot out of. Does that make sense? Sometimes self-care looks like going to bed at 10pm and getting enough sleep and sometimes it means googling “how to write fiction” at 1am.

One of the factors has been how we accidentally ended up with a million more farm animals this month. It is all exactly the right thing for our farm, and it has all worked out in a totally serendipitous way. But it has been SO FULL ON. Watch our new video to meet these mysterious, slightly scary, creatures. Also Ramona’s first bash at beekeeping:

(This video was filmed on our first day with the animals, I am used to them now and we are on far better terms…eeep!)

It’s always funny approaching Christmas being a Brit in NZ.

Last Christmas we stayed on the farm and had our own little meal. We had no oven so we built a campfire and cooked a roast chicken in a cauldron. It was nice. And smokey. Ha.

This year we are having all of Tim’s family over for Christmas. And we are also ovenless- that’s because our yurt oven is woodfired which we shut down over summer; if we were to stoke it up our yurt would become a sauna. So we will build a spit for a lamb. We will camp and swim and have barbecues and salads. Salads for Christmas lunch! I’m serious. Bringing you the hard truth, right here, my friends.

Home away from home 😆

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on

It is beautiful, having time together under the sun, swimming in the river and going on long evening walks. But, do you know what? Christmas is when I miss London the absolute most. I never feel properly festive here. I decorate the yurt like I think it’s the Christmas window display at Fortnum and Masons. (It would be really beautiful apart from that anything with a face – the nativity set, angels, Santa tree decorations etc- gets spirited away in carrier bags to different parts of the farm as playthings.)

I listen to ALL THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC. All day.

We do all the little advent rituals. (Some of them taken from Sacraparental’s epic list of advent ideas.)We are into our fourth year with our homemade pocket advent calendar, the girls are SO excited about seeing what is in every pocket. I have to do it each night otherwise they would have opened all 25 on the first day. I’ve only forgotten to put the thing in once… or twice. Ay ay ay, it is only the seventh of December!!! This morning they got little Santa candles in their advent pockets (stretching the concept of advent a bit, whatever) which they really enjoyed until Santa’s head melted completely away and Juno cried.

Despite all this I never really feel that buzz of December, that feeling that even though it is sludgy and dark and my nose and toes are constantly cold, there is this magical day coming up, this glimmer of shining hope to look forward to.Pocket Advent Calendar

It’s also when I miss my family the most. Christmas with my family is always so, so, so random. All the family and then several friends of friends, or neighbour’s cousins, or complete strangers. One year we met someone at the Christmas Ever service and she was going to be in London on her own the next day, so instead she came to us for Christmas. She went on to become a really cool friend. Hehe.

I try really hard to not get sentimental about being in NZ when all of my family is in London, but I really wish I could be with my folks and my sister and my nephews and niece at a cute little German market wearing wooly hats and eating churros that cost ten pounds.Off grid christmas in the summer

Luckily the swimming and the camping and the roadtrips balance out the homesickness a tiny bit.

What are you up to this Christmas? Are you feeling okay? Have you seen Mel’s 5 permissions, to help you look after yourself a bit? Have you seen my alternative, non-toy gift ideas for kids?

Hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, life isn’t biting you on the bum… x x

Parenting

20 Ways to a Better Bedtime

29 November, 2016

There is a huge amount of myth and mysticism surrounding bedtime and children’s sleep. For eight long months I kept up a rigid set of bedtime routines with my first daughter Ramona based on other people’s opinions dressed up as sleep science. They were depressing and anxious times. Then I had a set of revelations – mostly involving the idea that it is actually not my job to make my children sleep. (Read more about the changes in my approach that led to happier sleep for my daughter.)

From a pretty cursory look this morning it seems as if an enormous amount of the information we have on children’s bedtime is based on studies done with people who are experiencing serious sleep disorders. This is pretty sad news for our children. It is a mistake to take tips on life from those experiencing the very sharp edge of it.

An example of this is the idea that if we get bedtime wrong, ie, wait until the child is sleepy, this will then make them overtired, which will then release cortisol into their system, making it impossible for them to go to sleep.

Is this fact or myth? I know that sometimes my older child does seem to get a bit wired before bedtime, and then takes a while to go to sleep. It may happen a couple of times a month. I could interpret this as us “failing” because we let her choose her own bedtime. Or I could just see it as part of her learning about her body, her body’s cues and her body’s response.

Many children around the world are given freedom around their bedtime and they get it right, for themselves, 90% of the time. Recognising their sleepiness and asking to go to bed. They do not head into cortisol zone (as even the most gentle of parenting advocates suggest they will).

If we are so concerned about the release of stress hormones at bedtime, why isn’t there more talk of making bedtime a pleasant, connecting time, when children can trust that their parents will continue to meet their needs? As opposed to suggesting that once in their bed there shall be no play, no talk, no more drinks or food (basic needs!) – all of this could release cortisol and adrenalin, every single night. (I love Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s work most of the time, but beleive she has disregarded the importance of child rights in the home in these articles on sleep.)

What if the “playing up” so commonly spoken of at bedtime is because our children are not tired enough for bed? Or because they feel worked up because they are heading into the one time in the day where their parent’s stop meeting their needs? Where their fears are not validated, their worries not given chance to be worked out?

What is our aim at bedtime? To make sure our child gets enough sleep? Or to stay connected to our child, to nurture our relationship with them?

In an ideal world it would be both, of course. If any part of your bedtime routine is causing a disconnect with your child, then it needs to be tackled. And I see so often, in conversation, in magazine articles, in gentle parenting forums, that bedtime is always a battle of wills.

This post absolutely isn’t about making anyone feel guilty, and there’s absolutely no judgement. I recognise that everybody’s bedtime is different and each family has unique needs that i could never possibly understand. This is no “my way is the way” kind of post! I Twenty Ideas for a better bedtime

I simply want to advocate that bedtime becomes a place of connection, rather than power struggles.

As I tried to pull my thoughts together about children’s sleep I realised that bedtime is one area where we don’t trust our instincts. We don’t apply the same respectful or gentle principles to bedtime as we do to the rest of the day/ our child’s behaviour.

I guess that is because we are afraid. We’ve heard so much about the cortisol and overtired thing. We’ve heard that all childhood problems come down to a lack of sleep (or screentime! Hehe.) and that not getting bedtime right leads to a life long set of troubles.

Considering there are *so* many sleep issues with my generation, and the older generations, who likely had VERY strict boundaries around bedtime, I think this is a load of BS.

Now I don’t have the answers. We live in an unschooling bubble where our kids can fully yield to their own natural sleep rhythms because we don’t have a schedule to stick to. In many ways this counts me out of having advice for all parents!

*IE. NEW VIDEO ON WHY WE GAVE UP BEDTIME*

This way may not work for you, I totally get that!

But I do want to start a conversation on it, where people from a range of situations can ask themselves, and answer (here, in the comments, if you can) these questions. These are four questions that I beleive if they were asked by parents and parenting gurus, would help make bedtime better for children:


What does bedtime look like for children where:
1- keeping the connection between parent and child is an utmost priority
2- letting our children tune in to their body’s needs and respond to it is a priority
3- a child’s rights are observed (i.e – not coerced to do something with their body that they don’t want to do)
4- a child’s needs are met (i.e – they aren’t forced to go without connection, to face fears of the dark alone, forced to forgo food and drink)

I’m going to share my ideas on that, in the hope that you will share yours, particularly if you come from a very different place.

So what does it look like? I think there is a lot of talking and playing in the hour before sleep. It is one of the key moments in the day, an hour where children get to process the days events and get to connect with mum and dad / mum/ mum and mum/ dad and dad (you get me.) There is plenty of discussion around a child’s feelings of tiredness and the parent’s opinion of how much sleep they need. The child gets to taste the freedom of choosing a later bedtime, and possibly suffering the consequences – say having to get up when they are not ready. They are encouraged to do something nice in their bed, so they want to be there rather than forced to be there, such as audio books. They have supper before bed and a water bottle by their bed. Their parent stays with them, reading a novel or listening to podcasts until they feel safe.

Those are some ideas of mine. Dashed out as a quick response to my questions. (Our own home is actually far more liberal than this. We tend to all rock into bed within an hour of each other, quite late, my husband is out like a light and Ramona pokes him awake to keep reading her story and I breastfeed Juno and then I read for another couple of hours. And, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bed of roses. Sometimes we have grumpy evenings but by and large it is a time of connection.)

I would love to hear your ideas. I beleive we can carve out a new vision of bedtime for our children.

I do actually want to be helpful though, rather than giving a list of questions! So here are some of the ways I think we can build a better sleep environment at bedtime.

Many of these are based on the idea that, rather than bedtime needing to be a somber affair, laughter and active play are actually vital for helping a child move through the day’s anxiety. What if daddy’s instinct to wrestle with the kids on the bed before storytime is actually a sound one? There is evidence to suggest it is really important.

Processing anxiety before bedtime through play
Roughhousing or wrestling on the bed is a great way of helping kids work through feelings of powerless leftover from the day. (Can’t recommend the book The Art of Roughhousing enough!)
A game of freeplay, where your children direct who you are, what your role is, what happens. Just go with the flow and observe what they might be trying to work through. This is another way that children process what has gone on for them. (Read more about this in the book Playful Parenting.)

Processing anxiety before bedtime through talking
Have a sharing circle. Light a candle and each family member answers the questions
What was your worst part of the day?
Favourite part of the day?
Something you are thankful for.

Play something one to one – in my experience my six year old opens up far more when we are playing something together, either a card game or one of her ipad games.

Meditation at bedtime

One beautiful way Ramona and I have discovered is using a meditation. It was suggested by Tim’s Uncle and Ramona loves it. She lies down and closes here eyes. I describe a butterfly landing on her nose and waiting there a while, and then it moved onto all the different points of her body and each time it lands she feels warmth and joy and heaviness spread through. We go real slow, with big pauses, and by the time I am at her toes her whole body has sunk in to the mattress and she is fast asleep.

If you aren’t confident to lead a meditation yourself check out the many available online.

Unpacking the day rituals

We all know the bedtime stories and the bedtime bath and they are great for some kids. But other’s might enjoy something more hands on, or something different from day to day.

We try and keep up a nature table for each of the seasons. How about placing the treasures you’ve found from the day onto the table and talking about how they make you feel? (We would do this if we were more on to it!)

How about using some worry dolls together? To pass on to each tiny figure some of the problems of the day?

Creative rituals for bedtime

One reason I enjoy my children’s later bedtimes (between 8:30 – 9:45pm) is because there seems to be some sort of magical creative zone that happens after dinner. They begin crafting up and making these wonderful worlds with their colouring pens or lego or whatever. Something feels different about it.

Sing songs together – ask the kids to make up the lyrics

Work on a watercolour painting together

Make some paper dolls and treat them like worry dolls, ask the kids to colour or draw in each of their worries on a doll.

A lovely way for children to transition to sleep is using music. You possibly already have a cd that gets them sleepy – utilise it! Or have a look for some music especially made to help children relax. (Ideas welcome, please!)

Dream Talk Bedtime
I used to absolutely hate going to bed. I’m sure it is because my natural rhythm is a late one. My ideal sleeping hours are 11pm to 8am. And I think even when I was a kid I was a night owl. But my favourite bedtime was the one where my mum used to lay with me and describe the dreams I could have. She’d depict me doing something awesome, like going to the funfair, and I would go to sleep with these images in my mind.

Letting go of the bad parts of the evening/ bedtime
Kid’s don’t need a daily bath. My children love them so it’s all good. But so many parents cling to the nightly bath even though their children hate it.
Forget the homework. If it is making a kid anxious don’t force it. There is an emerging body of evidence against it.
Sometimes bedtime has become such a battle of wills that even just starting the bedtime routine causes a kid to be thrown into anxiety. Press the rest button. Go for a long walk together in the evening and then come back and do one of the above little rituals.

Making sure the body gets what it needs at bedtime
Magnesium helps us sleep. That’s pretty much a fact. Do your kids have enough of it? Take either through food, an epsom salts bath or a supplement.
It’s also suggested that a spoon of honey helps us sleep. The jury is more out on that one, but why not? So much other good shizz in a spoon of honey too!
Even wackier is the idea of banana water. Ha. Hard to write that without a little giggle, but *so* many people reckon that boiling a banana and drinking the potassium and magnesium filled tea helps you drop like a stone.

As ever would LOVE to hear your suggestions for alternative ways to make bedtime easier. I will add them in to the post so it can become a truly helpful resource.

Parenting

What are Sites of Mutual Fulfilment? Something parents need more of, that’s what.

17 November, 2016

I was reading something a friend had written the other day, about the hard, sad, mundane toil of motherhood, and it reminded me of my first year parenting with Ramona. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, the process of becoming a mother, my mother birth. It was intense for me reading my friend’s post- thinking about how much I felt that darkness and hardship, and how light I feel (mostly) around motherhood now. I’ve spent some time considering the differences in my life, why I enjoy mothering so much more.

Partly our life is a lot more how we want it to be (wilder, a bit feral, pretty cruisey, nothing to rush out the house for at 7am – well, apart from tiny ducklings wandering around the yurt). And we do even more sharing out of the domestic, parenting things between the two of us than ever before. I recognise this puts me in a wildly privileged position. I acknowledge that this concept (SMF) comes from that place and therefore won’t be relevant or applicable to some. I’d love to hear more thoughts on that, have a conversation around it and represent that in an updated version of this post eventually.

The kids are both older now, so we have genuine fun together. Like, playing games, I don’t have to pretend to lose. I just lose all the time. Uno, Memory. Turns out I suck at these games. I probably didn’t even ever have to pretend to suck. And when you try really hard to win something, it is kinda fun. So there’s that.

But here’s another thing. Something that I reckon is available to quite a lot of parents out there.  Something that if we invest a bit of time and creative thinking on, could impact the experience of parenting in a really good way.

Why sites of mutual fulfilment are so important for parents

Site of Mutual Fulfilment (SMF)

An SMF is a place where both child and parent have a great time.

It’s pretty simple, but I think they should be one of the daily aims of every parent.

If each day began with the question “Where is today’s SMF?” we’d get to the end of the day without feeling utterly ragged. 

SMF’s are different for every family. They are hidden EVERYWHERE. You can find them in the city, in the countryside. There are some in your own home even. Some are yet to be created by you and your friends. Some places are nearly SMF’s but aren’t quite YET, and it’d be great to try and make them more SMF-y.

For example – mums and tots group; good for baby, yep. Sometimes good for mamas. I went to lots of these when Ramona was tiny but only one was an SMF. The difference was that there was nice tea (not stewed) proper cake (not shit biscuits) and friends that I laughed my socks off with. I still went to the others but my brain registered them as a “mum job” because of the manky tea, boring old digestives and lack of laughter. In those ones I just hung around a bit awkwardly trying to make sure Ramona didn’t get a name for herself as a toy stealer.

(Forgive me if something like this already exists. If it does, I haven’t seen it.)

An SMF is a place where both the child’s and the parent’s urges and needs are met. They are places where all parties leave with a full cup. They are the vital mental health break in a day for mum or dad. Having enough SMF’s planned throughout each week can make the difference in whether we enjoy parenting, or not. 

Here are our own Sites of Mutual Fulfilment

  • The Library – the girls read or watch netflix while I read novels/ write blogs
  • The forest with kid friends – the kids play imagination games while I read a novel
  • Certain friends houses (but not all) – the kids play while we talk/vent our heads off. Some friend’s houses are not SMFs because the children find it trickier to negotiate things. We still go there to hang out and have fun, but I just plan for it, go on a day when I already have another SMF happening elsewhere.
  • Soft play – what can I say, the kids go rogue while I sit and read a novel. So, SO worth eleven bucks and the three dollar socks because I ALWAYS FORGET SOCKS. (I enjoyed this from The Spinoff on Soft Play.)
  • Our sofa – the kids watch a movie and I write a novel and we all have the best time of our lives.
  • Our home – the kids have a bath and I sing Ace of Base on my ukulele
  • The park – the kids climb the dangerously high frames and I read a novel/ read blogs and stare at everyone’s clean houses on Instagram*. This one is not quite as ideal because you tend to get a lot of judgey faces if you are reading/ staring at a phone and your kids are climbing things.
  • Unschooling camp – the kids just head off and do their own thing while the parents duck in and out of playing, have singalongs, do yoga, chat, play cards. Here is a little glimpse at our last unschooling camp, if you missed it

    Not all SMFs involve me and the kids doing separate activities – just some of them. And that is okay, in fact it is very healthy. Kids and parents SHOULD be doing different activities at times in the day. Play is the number one thing a kid should be doing with their time. It eclipses everything. And we play with them, of course, because we love them and we understand that play is their language and we want to be connected with them. But it isn’t always ideal to play with them all the time. We have other urges to honour. Urges to create and reflect and write and sing and talk and connect with adults. So for one segment of each day we need to find a way for our urges and their urges to happen alongside each other – it’s an SMF.

*A note on Instagram/ Facebook. Feel free to use your SMF to cruise social media. But be VERY AWARE of it’s impact on you. You have this hour or two to do something that could really make you feel good, deep down, to feel actually content, even creative,  for a little bit. If social media has that impact on you, PLEASE DO stalk your old school friends for an hour. You should do it. I’m not being sarcastic. I’ve had a brilliant time doing that, I get almost high on the adrenalin of *nearly* clicking like on an ancient photo of theirs! But if (like me most of the time) social media leaves you feeling even emptier than when you first flicked open the app, do not do it to yourself! Get Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe out of the library and read your way into another amazing little world that will fill up your heart. Not judging anyone at all, just putting it out there that we have to chose our SMF activity carefully for it’s effect on us.

And then there are some SMFs of ours where the fulfilment comes through the same activity. Here are some of those:

  • The botanical gardens – we all just love wandering around, climbing trees. The kids might run ahead and I get some time to think about things I care about.
  • The hot pools – floating around together, lush. Main reason we moved to NZ.
  • A campfire – chatting, roasting things on sticks.
  • Going to the beach. Swimming, making sand sculptures, swinging on rope swings, staring at people behind my sunglasses.
  • The skate park. They scoot, I skate.
  • Our home – finding an album we all really enjoy on Spotify and playing and dancing together.

(I guess when you strip it right back, SMF’s are essentially places where your kids can’t break the china ornaments. Ha.)

I am going to go all out here and say that many parents plan Sites of Mutual Fulfilment in to their days without really thinking of it, and perhaps they are the ones who find parenthood to be easier than expected. The ones who take it in their stride. (You know the ones.)

They are the folks who have just naturally erred towards this daily SMF rhythm. Perhaps they are people who are in touch with their own needs/ don’t have baggage around self-care (I think lots of us understand our own needs but struggle to prioritise them because of self worth issues? Or something.)

Why bother making it a Thing, giving it an acronym? Because if enough people start thinking like this, it legitimises it, you can organise on the phone, be like “How can we make this an SMF?” Or if you need to change a day around, switch it up, you can cancel something, say “Sorry, but we need to get an SMF in this afternoon.” You know an acronym works like that. It’s mamahood putting business socks on.

If you are reading this and think “Shivers my timbers, I have NONE of this in my life” would you consider how to squeeze some in? How to create some? Know that parenting isn’t meant to be one long exhausting, horrendous day after another, that you are WORTH an hour or two each day where you honour your own urges and needs.

Do you have enough Sites of Mutual Fulfilment? Would love to hear what yours are.

Can you make any current things you do SMFs? Can you decide to do less organised activities at playcentre, so the parents get more time to chill and talk together? Can you find a good gated park and have a weekly park meet up where the kids run wild and the parents start a choir/ learn how to tap dance/ perform spoken word to each other (or whatever)? 

PS – New Youtube up – my absolute favourite, favourite, favourite non toy gifts for kids – including the present we gave Ramona for her sixth birthday this week

Why sites of mutual fufilment are so important for parents

Parenting

State Approved Unschooling

8 November, 2016

We live in exciting, progressive times. We have access to stacks of emerging research that allows us to make far better decisions about how to live, parent, work in ways that nurture well-being and happiness. There are whole movements of people diverging from the status-quo because we are armed with evidence, we have a confidence, a determination to choose something different. Something that suits us better. We are opting out of traditional careers, a broken housing model, a military-industrial schooling system.

My family and I have made a bunch of decisions along these lines lately. We’re excited when we find others who have too, but we’d never judge others who choose not to.

And then someone comes along, points the finger, lumps a bunch of stuff indiscriminately in with a bunch of other stuff and mocks everyone that questions any of The System. Ugh. yeah, I’m talking about that article in The Guardian. Don’t read it, just get the gist:
“it is clear that some parents are subjecting their children to ideological nonsense that they term “non-schooling” or “delight-based learning”, in which there is no curriculum, structured learning or testing; instead, children are encouraged to “learn through living”. This is an outrageous state of affairs. We rightly argue that children worldwide have the right to attend school, so why not here? Home-schooling should be banned in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.”

How, HOW, did this poorly researched, dogmatic article get past the editorial team at the Guardian? Non-schooling?!

I thought it would be interesting for people who clearly have no understanding whatsoever, and also people who are simply intrigued by how children learn, to take a look at the application I have just had approved (last week!) by the Ministry of Education to unschool Ramona. In the UK families don’t have to fill one of these in, in other countries homeschooling is actually banned.

There are quite a few families here in NZ who choose not to fill one in. I quite enjoyed writing it all up, but make no mistake, every unschooling parent I have ever met (and I realise I haven’t met them all!) has done all of this thinking before they have pulled their kid out of school.

I am grateful that there are influentials out there who can read this and understand that learning through living isn’t something to sneer at, but is a wholly fulfilling, joyful, creativity-promoting, intelligence-developing way to spend a childhood.

The form is made up of of prompts, people are largely able to fill them in as they want. The large text indicates a section that has been asked for.

Official Unschooling Exemption from School Application Approved October 2016

Our family is made up of myself, Lucy, and my husband Tim. Our eldest daughter, Ramona, is 5 and she has a little sister, Juno, who is 3.

We live on a farm surrounded by Department of Conservation land having moved here two years ago from London, where I am from.

Tim is a teacher by trade with degrees in geography, management and a post graduate diploma in teaching. Currently he is working on establishing our small, off the grid farm and doing some youth work and life skills teaching in the local town.

I have an undergraduate degree and an Msc in Social Policy and have spent most of my working life working on climate change awareness and policy change campaigns. These days I work as a freelance writer, contributing to websites and magazines, and have authored two non fiction books.

Ramona is an enthusiastic and gregarious child. Ramona loves people and makes friends easily with people of all ages. Ramona loves to converse; she has picked up the art of story telling and asks insightful questions. She is also determined and we have watched her become adept at something new in a matter of hours. When people ask her if she goes to school she says “I am my own teacher!”

Ramona does not have any special education needs.

Our Home Education Approach

We have spent the last few years researching how children learn best and observing our two children learn all sorts of important things and we have come to feel confident that we will be able to provide an ideal environment for our children to learn at home.

We think that almost every moment is an opportunity for children to learn, and that, with a deliberate, supportive setting, children will learn everything they need to learn and far, far more. Terms for this include “unschooling” or “natural learning.” We also like the term “self directed learning.”

There are four pillars to our approach:

Child centred
Projects and learning goals are set by the child and learning will move at the child’s pace. Adults can absolutely contribute project ideas and, in fact, it is the adult’s role to “open the doors” on a child’s interest; to help them access the full scope of their subject matter, But no topic is forced upon the child and there is no pressure to attain goals at a pace set by the adult.

Holistic
The best sort of learning is holistic rather than compartmentalised. Every subject there is to study comes with a context and as holistic learners we will look at the big picture and the surrounding topics in order to deepen our understanding.

Delight Driven
We are at our most able to learn when we are comfortable and happy, and we absorb things at a deep level if they are rooted in curiosity! We therefore prioritise play and storytelling, we follow up those sparks of interest our children have and we create a lot of space for fun. (Children are naturally good at this – Ramona entirely on her own account counts everything, adds it up, subtracts and multiplies; giggling with glee!)

Supportive Setting
The supportive setting provided by the adult includes being willing to answer the bottomless amount of questions our children ask, able to recognise that every moment is a perfect learning moment, recognising all the resources available and being wiling to access them on behalf of the child and, finally, being curious about life themselves! Tim and I see ourselves as learners too, throwing ourselves into new areas of interest, and feel like this enthusiastic modelling helps provide a good environment for learning.

State Approved Unschooling Application

Learning Areas

Languages
Ramona is an avid communicator; articulate, fascinated by new words and quick to incorporate them in to her vocabulary. We read a huge variety of books, made possible by twice weekly visits to our local library. Ramona often chooses books designed to encourage phonetically based reading skills, and we always have one chapter book on the go. Tim and I are enjoying introducing her to some of our own favourites from childhood- Ramona is becoming a Roald Dahl fan.

We will continue to ensure Ramona has access to great reading material. And we will certainly employ ways of making learning to read fun when she is ready for that. We did download the Reading Eggs app but Ramona is sensitive to external pressure and it was quite an unpleasant experience for her! We want to respond appropriately when she is ready to move on to the next stage of learning.

Ramona has shown some interest in writing – primarily perfecting the “R” in her name, and being able to type in the password on our laptop! We recently bought a typewriter from the second hand store and she has enjoyed finding the letters that she cares about. She recently listed all of the families initials followed by the numbers that represent their ages – this tells me she has the foundational understanding that letters and number are a code for giving and receiving meaningful information.

She is recognising letters and noticing patterns in words but is far less interested in this right now than the actual creation of sentences and stories, songs and poetry.

We are involved in Playcentre which has encouraged us in our use of Te Reo. We have also enjoyed getting to know some families through the regular unschooling family camps who speak primarily Te Reo in their homes. We also listen regularly to Te Reo waiata on Anika Moa’s albums which has helped us all learn some of the basics such as colours and numbers, and have a Te Reo Memory Game which is helping us learn animal names. We are in conversation with a Paeroa Kapa Haka group and feel excited about getting involved with that and perhaps having the opportunity for more immersive Te Reo learning.

Short term goals: to put together a book of the poetry she has written, to establish more Te Reo in our lives. To continue to support the blooming of passion of reading and stories.

The Arts
Ramona loves music and has made playlists and cd’s with her favourite songs on them. We are always looking for new music and playing tracks from a variety of genres. We have made music together using the programme Garage Band on our computer, and she often writes poems which might turn into songs, accompanied by the ukulele. We have a variety of instruments that are easily accessible.
We have a huge range of arts and crafts available and we often work together on huge murals on ply or specific projects such as designing and sewing clothes for her dolls.

Ramona was fortunate to try out a kids pottery class when we were travelling through San Francisco last year. She absolutely loved it so we have kept a supply of air drying clay on hand. She really enjoyed using the wheel and the kiln for completing her piece so we have begun talking to some professional potters who are just completing their large studio about the possibility of a homeschooling pottery class there. They used to run a kids pottery workshop in Auckland so we feel really excited about that possibility.

Ramona also attends a Musical Theatre class in Tauranga fortnightly. They play improvisation games and work towards and end of term performance. We feel confident that if Ramona shows even more interest in this area that this theatre will provide a lot of opportunities for development.

Short term goals: to begin attending a kids pottery workshop and build more skills in that area. To continue to take up opportunities as interests emerge.

Sciences
Ramona takes a huge amount of interest in how the world works. We spend huge proportions of every day in scientific discussion! Weather, our natural environment, bodies, baking – all of these things prompt questions about what makes things work.

Part of unschooling is about being willing to answer questions to the best of your knowledge, and then directing children to other resources when necessary. We have a great library of encyclopaedias based around particular topics and Ramona knows she can go and get the relevant book so we can investigate together. Ramona recently hurt her shoulder and she went to the shelf for the book about bodies and looked up the mechanics of the shoulder. She discovered it hurt because, while the shoulder joint is a ball and socket join, it has a lip of bone that prevents the arm twisting too far up!

She has also learnt a huge amount from watching documentaries- we are all working our way through David Attenborough’s volumes of work. Ramona often references them – pulling out facts from the Life of Plants or Life in Cold Blood.

Ramona is really into mixing up potions so we often look for experiments that achieve different results such as mixing vinegar and baking soda. We have also made soaps and shampoo using ingredients we have and choosing herbs from the garden.

There are so many great resources out there for young scientists – including programmes on the internet and our local homeschooling network who run science workshops each week- as Ramona grows we will continue to help her build on her knowledge. Ramona has had a huge amount of fun with the Star Gazing App on our iphone- spotting all the planets and stars and constellations.

Short term goals: to craft up a solar system in their play room, to explore more reactive ingredients for potions. To be ready to take up new scientific interests as they unfold.

Maths
It has been fascinating the watch Ramona’s interest in maths unfold. It shouldn’t be surprising as maths is such a basic part of everyday life. Over the last few months she has begun adding and subtracting – often around food, making sure that every body gets the right about of biscuits. She is getting to understand multiplication and division; we will hear her say under her breath “Six biscuits and three people… the biscuits will need to be split into three piles… that is two each!” She does this throughout the day, checking in with us when she has landed upon an answer that doesn’t make sense to her.

We bake a lot which lends itself to maths, at the moment she is simply counting out cups and half cups and quarter cups, but this will soon develop into grams and kilos and will require her to delve into bigger numbers. Already we have begun halving recipes and doubling them and this is such a natural way of getting the foundations of maths.

Short term goals: that she will continue to associate delight and fun with numbers and maths. That we will continue to take up opportunities to expand learning in this area.

She’s got a box, she’s about to slide down the gnarliest hill ever. She’s five and she’s fierce.

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on


Eco-literacy and Physical Education
We believe that a hugely important area of development for children is discovering their place within the natural world. To this end we prioritise learning about and looking after the animals on our farm, Ramona often helps out with farm chores such as feeding the chickens and ducks and collecting their eggs. We also have cows and goats that require moving and feeding.

We recently established a nature play day where we take our young children into an outdoor environment for a full day of playing freely in the bush, to pick up bush craft skills and begin to recognise the native plants around us and discover their uses. We hold this once a fortnight.

We spend a lot of time outside looking after the garden and exploring our local environment, from this blossoms ecological learning and fosters a love of, and respect for nature.

Most of Ramona’s physical education is in a child’s natural movement, playing in a natural setting. Ramona is also very keen on her fortnightly gym class and rollerblading which we do whenever we can but especially each week at the Waihi Sports Centre. Over the last 18 months Ramona has taught herself to ride a bike and to swim incredibly competently so we create as many opportunities for this as we can.

Ramona has had a love of horses for two years now which we have helped her explore through choosing library books and getting out the “Keeping Up with the Kaimanawas” television series from the library. A year ago we took the plunge and enrolled her in horse riding classes. She does this fortnightly and is thriving learning about horse care and grooming and natural horsemanship, she has ridden bareback and begun going over small jumps. It is encouraging to see how Ramona has flourished under the tuition of someone skilled in an area we aren’t and we are excited about Ramona doing more of this kind of thing in the future.
Short term goals: that she will continue to grow in confidence in her roller blading and biking and horse riding, to continue to increase in her swimming skills, build a new array of bush skills and knowledge and really shore up her awareness of how powerful and strong her body is. That she will continue to grow in motor skills and enjoyment of sport and her environment.

Keeping Records

We currently document Ramona’s learning journey through photos and journal writing. We plan on digitalising this soon.

It is really important to us that Ramona feels good and hopeful about all she is learning and all she is able to do. We want her to feel confident about the opportunities available and that she will be able to fulfil her own goals and ambitions with our support. At least once month we will check in with Ramona about how she feels about her learning and progress and make changes as required.

Long term vision

Our hope for Ramona is that she will be intrinsically motivated to achieve anything she wants, that she will have a strong understanding of all the opportunities available to her and that she will maintain her love of learning for her whole life. Our hope is that Ramona will be able to identify what it is she wants to do and know she has the support and inner strength to achieve it, be that formal education, a passion or a profession.

Resources

In our region/ within driving distance:

Bay of Plenty Home Educators Network- workshops, weekly classes, science competitions, weekly socials, maths clubs. We already attend several of the activities and are excited about all the opportunities in the future.

Playcentre and the variety of children and grown ups and resources there.

Local Library – books and dvds

Local op shops for supplies and learning about money

Local artists, studios, musicians and potters

Local environment – our farm, river and the DoC land on our doorstep

The coastline for fishing, kayaking, surfing and swimming

Auckland Art Gallery (we visit for each school holiday kid focused exhibition)

Auckland Museum

Local museums and temporary art and craft exhibitions

At home:

Wifi – for learning on the internet, youtube tuition and learning apps

Netflix – for learning through animation and documentaries

Spotify – for discovering new music and expanding musical knowledge

A well stocked craft cupboard

A type writer for recognising letters and making words

Good pens, note books and a desk

An easily accessible book shelf of great books

Many tools and skilled adults to facilitate learning

A vegetable garden – the girls grow their own seedlings and nurture them, and pick the veggies for eating.

Farm animals to care for and learn about

A large selection of toys for imagination play

A large selection of card games and board games for playing with family and friends

A lap top and an ipad for technological literacy, typing and learning

Her own digital camera for art projects

Kitchen ingredients and recipe books (several times a week she chooses a meal or cake and executes that task with assistance from me)

Loving this age of competence. “Can I make pancakes?” Makes pancakes for the whole family 🙌🙌🙌 🙌

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on

Special Project

When we moved here one year ago we began learning about the history of the place. One of the DoC walks that begins at our back gate takes you to the Karangahake Gorge, past all the old mining relics. As we went along we read about the mining history and Ramona enjoyed exploring the mining tunnels and the huge pipes and mechanics that they used to mine the gold. This was a great way to learn about the historical role of mining in New Zealand. We also recognised the impact on the natural environment – comparing the mined place full of new forest to a spot further up the valley full of ancient Kauri trees. Over dinner with a new neighbour we learnt a lot about the history of gold mining in the gorge and Ramona has a lot of questions for him.

We took another walk, this time up to the Victoria Battery and spend a whole morning playing amongst the enormous relics. We visited the old kilns and the Karangahake museum where we learnt more about the history, but also the process for extracting gold.

Ramona’s interest in the history evolved into an interest in the gold itself, so she began looking for gold in our river.

When we did the earth works for our home we uncovered a lot of quartz rock. Together with her dad and a friend they hand dug out a huge rock and moved it onto our deck. For the last month Ramona has headed out there once a week with a chisel and a pair of goggles to flake off bits of the most glittery rock, which we now have on a treasure shelf. As her and her friend worked on the rock they discovered that striking it produced a spark, which then led us on to a discussion about flint and early, primitive ways of making fire.

Two weeks ago we visited Auckland museum where we were delighted to discover samples of rock from the Karangahake Gorge just like the ones we dug out! They were in the kids section so there was lots of accessible information for Ramona to learn about the geology around rocks like hers. We decided we would take our rocks up there and have a chat with one of the museum staff members about Ramona’s particular rocks.

This special project began eleven months ago and is still going. This last weekend we attended the spring Unschooling family camp and we participated in many of the workshops- one of which was macramé. We learnt how to tie knots in string to create baskets for jewellery and Ramona and I are considering turning some of her quartz rocks into jewellery.

To me it is a great expression of unschooling – led by the child’s interest, with adults opening the doors of opportunity to delve further in. It is long term and it is totally holistic – there were no isolated pockets of information that don’t fit with an overall picture of the world and how it is all interrelated.

“As regularly as”

I thought it might be helpful to provide an overview of what each fortnight looks like. Many of the formal activities we do are on a fortnightly basis so we try and manage the rest of the week so that there are certain rhythms we follow, while providing a flexible and varied schedule. Each fortnight we spend 20 hours in formal, paid for classes or activities we have registered for and committed to. Every fortnight we spend around 30-36 hours in activities that are particularly “learning based” – that fit with the learning areas I have described above. On top of that, I estimate that there is another 20 hours spent socially- in conversation with each other, other adults, peers, from which I believe an enormous amount of learning occurs. And then, after that there is only free play! Which, for a five year old, is crucial for intellectual and creative development and possibly even the best form of learning for Ramona right now. In short, I am confident that the environment we are providing for Ramona is as good as that which she would receive at school.unschooling exemption nz

THAT’S IT! ALMOST 4k WORDS! Sheeeba!

As a reward here is a brand new video of our most recent unschooling camp, a place where all the unschooling fandamalies get together for the most fun everrrrrrr. ***contains a swear***

Parenting

A midwife for your motherbirth

31 October, 2016

When did you become a mama? Was it when you first conceived? Gave birth? Gazed in to your babies eyes as you fed them with love? Maybe you always felt like a mama. You were born with a mama soul. And the baby in your arms just confirmed it to all the others.

It took me a while. I felt everything for 2 weeks. The bleeding nipples, the emptiness and fear where I KNEW love should be. But I didn’t feel like a mama.

It was snowing when we bought Ramona home from hospital. It helped me feel safe, like having the curtains down, like we were hiding behind the sofa, figuring out how to be parents.A midwife for motherbirth

I told my husband my legs were too weak and my vagina hurt too much to walk. I told him I was scared of slipping on ice.  We put if off but I knew I had to leave the house one day.

After 7 days I zipped Ramona into a tiny monkey onesie, a hand me down from her big cousins. I procrastinated, taking a thousand million zillion photos of this tiny, perfect human.

Then I put her in the sling and we decided to aim for the park where we would take tea and cake, our new family of three. We got to the first corner, turned right, walked twenty yards, turned left. There were about 3 more corners, 4 more minutes to the park, but I stopped and cried.

God knows what Tim thought. 10 days ago I was a strong, fearless woman. Then I was giving birth for three days. Then hiding behind the sofa for 7. And now I’m standing in grey sludge heaving tears in front of the neighbours.

I didn’t know how much I had torn, I couldn’t touch myself. I was scared to go to the toilet, how could I walk around in public? I said it was my weak, changed, hurting body, but I think there was more going on.

Tim said “We did so well! We got so far!” and pointed to the street sign that was different from our own street sign. A whole street a way from home! We’ll try again tomorrow.

The next day my body was stronger, and the next day stronger still. More, my nipples hurt less. More, I felt maybe Ramona was enjoying life outside the womb. She only really cried from 9:30pm – 11:30pm each night. In a 24 hour a day, that was a good sign, right? I had to have her in the sling, and had to be standing, or bouncing on the yoga ball, but she tended towards happy in the day.

I was still feeling these three minute flashes of doom, and I still felt like I was playacting mamahood, but I also understood that one day it would be okay.

Another week later I zipped Ramona into the monkey suit and Tim wore her in the sling and we made it all the way to the park and the cafe and we had tea and cake!

When we got there two elderly ladies admired her full cheeks and told me off for taking her hat off in the cafe.

Another man from India told me that mama and baby should never leave the house until 40 days have passed.

We smiled at them all, while squeezing each other’s knees under the table, and then I cried when I got home.

Every day that passed I stopped feeling like I was acting out the role of Mother. By the third week my heart almost rocked itself out of my chest when I looked at Ramona, with love this time, instead of fear and awe.

Slowly, slowly, my mother soul was being born.

By the time Ramona was three months old I had found the forum on The Green Parent. These faceless mamas were who I turned to when Ramona stopped the newborn sleeping, when her breastfeeding entered Twenty Million Snacks A Day Mode, when I had all the questions about how to be a mum. They guided me and helped me find my own quiet confidence. Through this group I found real life friends who mothered in the way I was drawn to.

By this point I’d figured out babywearing and breastfeeding and even breastfeeding while babywearing. And when one day after I’d been feeding Ramona and the postie rang the bell to deliver a parcel, and I put my boob away, and ran down the stairs, and signed for the parcel, and closed the door and then realised that I’d been feeding with both boobs out and that my left boob was still hanging there in all its glory, I was feeling so mothery I just laughed and marvelled at how the postie didn’t bat an eyelid.

A midwife for motherbirth

When I saw this quote the other week this group of internet strangers sprang to mind. They were only there for such a short time in my life – I needed them for three or four months. By the time Ramona was one I was flying and had largely moved on. They were the midwives for my mama soul.

We can be so harsh about the internet, and some people can’t get their heads around the way technology can foster life-giving connection. I am SO THANKFUL for the global tribe of encouragers I have found on there.

I had real life motherbirth midwives too. My sister who helped me understand that everything I googled in a panic was a normal part of babyhood/ motherhood, who didn’t judge me for spending the first week that Tim went back to work eating biscuits and watching series 1-3 of Glee and even cancelling plans to do it. Friends who came with me to the baby sling library and helped me tangle myself and Ramona right up in metres and metres of rainbow wraps. Friends who modelled a freedom with their children that I’d never even considered – not having an opinion on everything your child picked up? Not correcting their mispronounced words? Not telling them to shush when they were frustrated with something? A whole new world was being revealed! I was trying on different pairs of mother boots and found a pair that fit me perfectly.A midwife for motherbirth

We all need a midwife for our birth as mothers. The best midwives in childbirth are attentive to needs and basically make sure no one is dying. Don’t we need that for our mother birth? Someone to hold our hand, fetch more absorbent pads, make sure we are keeping our head above water? Someone who suggests we try something new or listen deeper to ourselves? Who doesn’t judge us for the swearing and the sticky, visceral nature of the birthing process?

I would wish that for every new mama. That they have enough people to love them and support them as they become their children’s mother. That you have sisters and friends and Aunties and neighbours who understand you, and with whom you can learn to be a mother without apologising. And may you have a tribe of friends, be they online or offline, who will hold your hand as you figure out the kind of mother you want to be.

~

As ever, I’d love to hear of your experiences of motherbirth and your midwives and doulas!

xx

yurt life

We’ve been living off the grid for one year!

20 October, 2016

We’ve just passed our living off the grid first year anniversary and I thought it would be a good plan to reflect on it all a bit. We had been living off the grid for around 15 months prior to last September, but it was on someone’s elses farm, sort of tucking into their sunshine powered dream, apprenticed to them in the ways of self sufficiency.

One year ago we moved on to the land we bought with another family and began to set up a small solar powered home and farm. There was nothing on the farm apart from some fencing and a shed, and the natural environment- springs, trees, the river, meadows and native forest.

We popped up one little yurt and basically camped out for the summer. We hooked up a tap and had an outdoor kitchen. And slowly added bits and bobs. Four months in we stuck up a big yurt with the help of many friends and moved into that for a more long term home. We chose a yurt house as it was inexpensive, easy and quick to put up, and beautiful too. (Heres more on choosing to live in yurt homes.)

Here are a few thoughts….living off the grid for one year

Living off the grid is WELL EXPENSIVE to set up
One of the things that has been a bit of a shock is how much money everything has cost! Ultimately living off the grid ends up less expensive as our solar electricity is free and home grown food is cheaper. But to set it all up really does cost a lot. Things that you don’t really think about as costing actually money are REALLY expensive- things like timber and nails and pipes.

Living off the grid is a time stealer
Everything takes FOREVER. Working our bums off and we have only got two thirds through our To Do list. And that’s with crossing things off with the scribble “revisit 2018″…  We thought we would have an add on to our yurt built before the winter, a sort of porch/ wet room where we can keep wet coats and welly boots and store tools and things, but that hasn’t happened yet. We thought we’d have hydroelectricity set up so we could have endless electricity, but that got moved down the list. Mind you… the weather hasn’t exactly been a friend in all this. We’ve had to write off whole days, WEEKS, due to rain storms and stuff.

Living off the grid is hard and not so hard
Some of the things that might seem hard (like having an outhouse instead of an internal bathroom and a composting toilet that doesn’t flush) are not as hard as you might think. They just make SO much sense that we quite quickly got used to the idea of treating our waste differently. It’s something that is just part of life and only ever feels like a positive thing; isn’t it awesome that we don’t throw away something that is SO good for our trees?!

Living off the grid involves an entire mind revolution when it comes to electricity. There have been times when we have just had to shut everything down this winter. That can be incredibly frustrating. Slowly, mindful use of electricity just becomes the new normal.

And then, sometimes stuff is hard, with not much positive spin to be wrung out of it. Going without hot water for so long, months and months, was pants. Having to park our car 180 metres away and hike up with the girls and all our gear in the pouring rain has been a bit of a major mission.

Living off the grid gets the weather in your face
This one is the bridge between the bad and the good sides of living off grid. Because on one hand we feel so open to the elements, and lots of our activities are weather dependant, or go ahead despite the weather and are turned from a pleasant job to a freaking AWFUL one. And living in a yurt increases this too. We’ve done a winter in our yurt (read more by clicking that link) and it was warm as we had a fire. But when it hails, or when the wind howls around us, it is LOUD and full on! And as we lie in bed on our mezzanine floor, our faces half a foot from the fabric roof on which the rain is pounding we think who does this??!

But then, there is a good side to being this close to the elements. Those sunny days when we look out at the mountain and the meadows call to us and we fling our bodies down the hill and lie in the long grass and the ducks come quacking over ‘cos they think we have their grains and then a cloud comes and it rains. Ha. But really, I’ve never been so very conscious of the weather and the seasons and it is truly marvellous.


Living off the grid in community is so nice
So a year or so into living with another family on our farm and we are SO GRATEFUL to be living in community. It is SO NICE and SO RIGHT for this way of life. We would feel immensely isolated doing this without them. And it would be way too much work. This way the load is shared and if one family is sick or needs a break, the other can step in. If one family is going to be too late home to move the cows to the next field, the other family does it. They are kinda like the greatest neighbours ever, but more than that, like neighbours-with-benefits… but not those kinda benefits… other kinda more wholesome, agricultural benefits….argh

I don’t say this flippantly at all, and don’t even really recommend living this intensely in community unless you really think super hard about it, find the most very right people who you communicate really well with, and then do some serious work and living with them before hand. Buying land with people is a big deal. But we love, LOVE, our neighbours and we feel so lucky that we found each other. They bring a lot of joy and empathy into our lives.

Plus, together, we are able to give our dreams legs. We have begun fire/moon circles where adults gather to share stories around the fire, under the moon. We have begun a forest play group for little ones and home schoolers. Both of these groups add so, so, so much to my life.


Living off the grid… but with wifi
So we are off grid, no services or state provided infrastructure, except the internet. I guess that is someone’s grid. And I don’t know whose grid it is, I thank them for it, as I like it. Maybe it’s Gods grid? Would she let the whole xxx thing gets so outta hand on there? Doubt it.  Probably not God’s grid. I guess in a way it is sort of the world’s grid, right?  And I guess it’s less of a grid, and more like a flexible, evolving, sort of  interconnected structure… you know what, I’m gonna call it a WEB.  The World’s Web. I feel as if it needs another syllable in there somewhere. The World Wise Web? The World Whine Web?

Anyway. We are ON THAT. We thought it would help with my work, and it kind of has, like lots of cool things have happened, I turned up in all the charts, right up there in the British top parenting one and the NZ top blog one, and I made a meme and it got a virus and TWELVE MILLION PEOPLE SAW IT ON FACEBOOK! Like actually 12 million people, not kidspeak 12 million. OMG! Which is all quite amazing considering I feel like now that I work at home rather than the library I spend most of the time standing in front of my open fridge wondering why we don’t have more snacks.

And then, I feel like the wifi and the ease of working at home has come at a bit of a cost. It’s there all the time this WWW, asking you to click all the things. And I am having to work TRIPLEY hard at staying present and doing hobbies other than surfing the internet that I love to do. Pre wifi I used to read 3 books a WEEK I tell you! And I would sing 1990’s rap on my ukulele like the South London hipster I used to be. We are still figuring out how to get all the wonders of the wifi without the weird owning of your life that it can sometimes do.

Living off the grid… a year of loving nature (and nature loving me??)

YIKES THIS POST IS TURNING RIDICULOUSLY BIG. I probably need to write about all these things separately. Okay… so for me, this year has been less all about the living off the grid thing… and more about a life lived in touch with nature. I guess we chose off grid because it is so gentle on the earth’s resources… and, this might sound strange, this year I have felt the sense of being held by Papatuanuku – in Maori, this is the land, the mother of all living things.

I feel like we have said YES to the earth, and the earth is giving a million yeses back. I write about this in my book 30 Days of Rewilding…  the beautiful, mutual relationship that we can have with nature.
Living off the Grid for one year
The mountain invited us to live close by, and offers its protection from many of the roof ripping gales for which this region is named. We do what we can to stop the greedy pillaging that mining companies would like to do. It’s a relationship. Getting arrested on the mountain was kind of like the equivalent of getting a beloved’s name tatooed across my shoulder.

And then there’s the ruru, the native owl. We have this thing going on, I swear! Ah, sheesh. This is a story for another time….

Living off the grid and children

So, one of my children, Juno, is an off gridder.  She is a solar powered hippy from way back. She is three and gets involved with all the work around the place and heads off into the bush for solo adventures. Sometimes in the dark with a head torch!?! Like, for real, she did that.

The other was born and raised for her first 2.5 years in London and has taken longer to get used to it. She is far more fearless and ferocious than most in the wild. This is her catching eels in the creek.

But, you know what, she is still an urbanite in lots of ways. Just yesterday she found a matching pair of socks and went “MUM, QUICK WHERE ARE MY RUNNING SHOES?” “huh?” “MY RUNNING SHOES I NEED TO PUT THEM ON AND GO FOR A RUN!” “What, why, huh?” “LOOK I’VE GOT TWO WHITE SOCKS AND IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY DREAM TO WEAR TWO WHITE SOCKS AND GO FOR A RUN”

So we head in to town more often than we would to help her city slicker ways.

~

There is so much more to say but it is midnight and I have a book to read and a ukulele to strum. I might have to do a two parter on this whole year of living off the grid thing. In fact, if you have any questions, ask in the comments and maybe I could do a sort of Q and A thingy.

***new video*** Sometimes the reason all the important things, like getting our little yurt ready to go on Airbnb (oh there is it! Spread the word! If people want to try out an off grid farmstay, send them our Airbnb, kicking off in November!) it might be because we get distracted by doing something really fun like making earth bricks for our garden!

PS Want more nature loving stuff? My latest book is designed as 30 short readings you can do each day over your morning cup of tea to help you fall in love with nature. See more here!

PPS Here is our year of living off the grid in video form!
ONE MONTH ON OUR LAND

TWO MONTHS ON OUR LAND

FIVE MONTHS ON OUR LAND

EIGHT MONTHS ON OUR LAND

TEN MONTHS ON OUR LAND