kate5kiwis: April 2008


“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” — Mitsugi Saotome

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

i think i was a mermaid in a previous life.

our surf beach
is our favourite playground.
something magic happens
in the instant
our toes kiss the sand.
i'll never tire of this place.
the biggest decision is how many shells to take home. i often find myself humming one of Phil's songs as treasures are sought and gathered:
we searched for shells on the beach.
we did it every year.
we carried them back home,
to make the beach feel near.
it's the wild, fragrant, salt-filled air of the bubbly shoreline that continues to inspire me, earth me, enable breath.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

little love letter

from my beautiful baby boy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

punctilious pandamonium

Meet my newfound kindred spirit, Lynne Truss. Over the last few days, my prominent proboscis has been firmly wedged in her hilariously supercilious book. Finally, I am breathing again. On the back cover of this gorgeous lemon-tinted treatise is a joke:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.
The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

Ms. Truss begins her punctilious tirade on page 1 (if you skip the Acknowledgements, which I did), entreating the reader,
Either this will ring bells for you or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. "Come inside," it says, "for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's." If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once.
and proceeds to give advice on how to embrace one's Inner Stickler: skipping gaily through menus and shop-fronts armed with a big bottle of correction fluid, a red pen, and a tin of paint with a large brush.

I myself am an unabashed over-punctuator: liberally sprinkling commas, hyphens, dashes and parentheses throughout my emails and 'blogs. And (gasp!) I have a habit of starting my sentences with a conjunction. And seriously under-capitalising, especially the poor word "i", which I will not allow to grow up. I wonder what Freud would say? I prefer the excuse that I write as I speak - forgetting to take a breath at the ends of sentences, hence needing no capital at the beginning of the next - interjecting my thoughts with after-thoughts and helplessly blonde explanations.
It's "life on the fly", which is, essentially, how we roll.

After reading chapter two, I have taken heart about my adoration of commas. Truss recounts a lovely little vignette of a humorist (Thurber) and his editor (Ross) in the 1930s (no apostrophe needed),
... in the end Thurber simply had to resign himself to Ross's way of thinking. After all, he was the boss; he signed the cheques; and of course he was a brilliant editor, who endearingly admitted once in a letter to H. L. Mencken, "We have carried editing to a very high degree of fussiness here, probably to a point approaching the ultimate. I don't know how to get it under control." And so the comma proliferated.
hurber was once asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living room.'?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up." (p. 69, 70)

Ah, that really resonates with me. I'm about half way through the book and am becoming more eduKATEd with each sentence. For example, I have been persuaded to place a second "s" after the apostrophe at the end of the possessive of proper names ending in "s", as in Truss's, right there. Traditionally, I have left the apostrophe dangling in mid-air. Such pedantry is perhaps enough to make one's eyes glaze over. Wait till I get going. Where was I? (guess the movie line)
There is just one final thing holding us back, then. It is that every man is his own stickler. And while I am very much in favour of forming an army of well-informed vigilantes, I can foresee problems getting everyone to pull in the same direction. There will be those, for example, who insist that the Oxford comma is an abomination (the second comma in "ham, eggs, and chips"), whereas others are unmoved by the Oxford comma but incensed by the trend towards under-hyphenation - which the Oxford comma people have possibly never even noticed. Yes, as Evelyn Waugh wrote: "Everyone has always regarded any usage but his own as either barbaric or pedantic." Or, as Kingsley Amis put it less delicately in his book The King's English (1997), the world of grammar is divided into "berks and wankers" - berks being those who are outrageously slipshod about language, and wankers those who are (in our view) abhorrently over-precise. (p. 30, 31)

It's enough to make one hesitant about blogging. Right then, book aside, I'm off to watch My Fair Lady (tonight's movie of choice) with the kiwi-kiddos, all of us giggling at Eliza's outrageous pronunciation of English vowels, and singing along with Professor Higgins as he explains:
The French never care what they do, actually,
as long as they pronounce it properly.
Arabians learn Arabian
with the speed of summer lightning.
And Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English -
you're regarded as a freak.

Uh yeah, we're fans of Shakespeare and the Von Trapp family too.
*raises eyebrow*
And so I say, with correction fluid firmly within my grasp:
Whether we call ourselves a commaphobe or a commaphiliac - let's punctuate! (yep, it's another quiz, lol)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

S10's Unbelievably Cool ManBag

S10 came searching for a morning kiss wearing his old fave jeans, which have been out on many skater-boy missions and now have knees to prove it. inspired by his sister's creative buzz, he wanted to learn to use the sewing machine.
i'm not sure what the general protocol is for this kind of thing (cos Auntie Mim taught R14 how to use The Machine), but we started with a tandem effort of S10 operating the foot pedal and moi giving the verbal instructions and feeding the fabric through the presser foot until S10 had enough know-how to do it self.
and do it self, he did:

it took all morning, and lookit the skater-boy results:
(gosh you're a GORGEOUS boy!!) meet the latest Turn Your Jeans Into A Couture MANBAG which is lined with S10's favourite summer shirt...
yeah, the inside skinside is covered in flames and dragons (at the bottom, hiding).... and even has its very own secret pocket. cos we're all about the secret pocket.

Friday, April 25, 2008

faith, hope, and love

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.

The army helicopter flyover sent goosebumps up my spine and shivers through my soul.
We salute the fallen. Lest we forget.

M6 regards the ANZAC Memorial Service through his green plastic binoculars.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

trip to the ci-NIM-a

Tip all those coins outta the piggy bank, pack up yer sprogs and a big box of jaffas and head into the city.
Anne of Green Gables meets Swiss Family Robinson meets Andre (the Seal, not the Giant lol) with a slice of wonderfully organic homeschooling thrown in, Nim's Island is The Must-See Family Flick these school holidays.
Sure, it ain't Jodie Foster at her best, but it's a warmhearted, fun adventure that the kids and we found inspiring and fun.
All in all, a great family visit to the cinema.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

hashed muffins

this little muffin book has been couriered home in Woozie's school bag with amazing regularity over the last year. we've been drooling over various recipes, and this morning (being holidays an' all) we decided to make *hash brown, egg and bacon wrap muffins* for brunch (after we braved Push'n'Shove filling up the fridge). they looked easy peasy enough, but upon tasting, we thought we could improve the decidedly doughy texture (cos all da peeps ate the Bee and E's and spat out the hash-part)... so here's our recipe for future muffin moments (it is, after all, nearly-muffin-weather, and we think this recipe is a fabulous innovation on the rather predictable bacon-and-eggs, and they're rather cutesy) (oh and i know, *why* are we calling them *muffins* when there ain't no muffin in 'em? that's a rhetorical question, i ain't gonna answer it)
adjust ingredients for number of muffins ya fancy:
rashers of streaky bacon
grated potato
happy eggies
(yep, it's *my* kinda quick-n-easy recipe)

1. preheat oven. place one rasher of bacon across each muffin tin (the rasher will look too long but the ends will be wrapped over the muffin before baking).
2. grate 1 - 2 potato(es) into a bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and freshly ground salt and black pepper. spoon into bacon-lined tins until half full.
3. carefully break an egg on top of each muffin and fold bacon over the crown.
4. bake 15 - 20 mins until bacon is crispy and egg has risen.
eat one with an espresso/cappuccino on the side.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


yep, The Biannual Garden Gnome Strikes Again!!!!!
i have been procrastinating this for oh, about four weeks:

so today while Bulldog sat on the deck in the sunshine wrapped in a nana blanket reading his mountain of paper University Literature and offering such encouraging phrases as: "Nice view from here!... Go Action Man!... Super Woman!" as he basked in the afterglow of Freshly Mown Lawns (like my friend Suz says, "There's nothing like a man who's just mown his lawns.") i uncovered the rhubarb, a basil bush (not Basil Brush... silly!!), some rosemary (i almost pulled it out but noticed the little sign just in time), the old parsley plant which may recover itself, a soccer ball (just checking you're still reading), and two of the six silverbeets i popped in to the soil midsummer.

oooh la
la, Voilà!!!!! (woah, lookit!!!!)
i got rained off twice but DO I WIN TODAY'S PRIZE FOR PERSEVERANCE or *what*?? heck, it's not even like Mum and Dad are coming for the weekend (actually, when *are* ya coming down again? i am really needing someone to show off my newly weeded garden to missing you).

and during one of the rained-off moments, M6 had a wee request for a Secret Diary.
no problem.
in true Whip Up Tradition we found an old pair of fave *mickey mouse* boxer shorts
and *ALACAZAM!* a Secret Diary, complete with Secret Latch *and* Secret Name Tag.

Monday, April 21, 2008

can't stop the dance

the sultry tango of seven sleeps,
just you'n'us swinging together,
our bodies absorbing the elongated rays
of late summer.
hearts colliding, souls realigning
as we skip along the streets,
my pink canvas shoes the percussion accompanist
to piles
of amber leaves.
a little hand encircled in your strength,
smaller steps lengthening to match your stride,
the excitement of a rediscovered playground,
waltzing along a newly found path.
dancing through the undergrowth,
siamese sounds twirling through ear buds,
sunshine entwining our rhythmic heartbeat,
souls awash in late afternoon light.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sew Sweet

The sewing machine is whirring, whirring... and I am flashing back to my own teenage hours spent snip-snip-snipping and pinning and creating and trying on and unpicking and sewing and pinning and sewing and finally wearing.

It's twenty-odd years hence, and Woozie is dressed in her new fave black-bleached jeans, a pink top and my black felt-heeled dancing shoes, her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, a silver ring floating on a chain around her neck. She's stretching out on the lounge floor, snip-snip-snipping at pairs of jeans she's suddenly grown out of, strewing the carpet with snipped-off threads, snipped-off fabric, pins, scissors... measuring, sewing, squinting at the thread which is transforming yet another pair of jeans into a couture bag. Her lilting alto accompanies the whirring, whirring of the machine. She triumphantly produces her latest piece, checking the seams are straight and adjusting pins and threads, snipping more fabric and strewing more threads.

Her littlest brother runs past, gazing adoringly at Woozie's latest creation and begs her to make him a bag. At which she immediately stops her own sewing and takes him by the hand towards last year's mending pile, hacks off a trouser leg of a pair of size-too-small jeans... and in half a minute M6 is stuffing his own precious treasures into his very own bag.
And I am thankful again for a soulmate, a sister, a singer, a song.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

caption contest

it's been raining pretty solidly for *three* WHOLE *days* and the lads'n'i are getting Serious Cabin Fever, including D18 who's spent *three* WHOLE *days* holed up in R14's room (which now houses his ole desk) designing an Electric Toothbrush (which now has bristles *and* an oscillating head. yes it does!)

so in celebration of last week's *beach days* and in honour of last week's fave *beach photo*
taken by Nik-The-Artiste-Chick (who is fast on her way to becoming a world-renowned painter, i kid you *not*) who whipped out her camera at the beach and started snapping...

i whipped up these pink angel earrings on sterling silver ear wires,
which will be yours, *gift-wrapped* if your beach-chick-caption (which ya type in the *comments* box) gets
randomly drawn this weekend...
and yes, i was actually *saying* a movie line the very second Nik's finger clicked the shutter...
so if ya prefer, you could type a movie line instead...
mwah X

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

still in love

nineteen years ago you put a circle of gold around my finger and we promised ourselves to each other:
and for a moment the whole world
revolved around one boy and one girl.

today we're stll dancing to our melodious tune:

Dancing toward Bethlehem
If there is only enough time in the final
minutes of the twentieth century for one last dance
I would like to be dancing it slowly with you,

say, in the ballroom of a seaside hotel.
My palm would press into the small of your back
as the past hundred years collapsed into a pile
of mirrors or buttons or frivolous shoes,

just as the floor of the ninteenth century gave way
and disappeared in a red cloud of brick dust.
There will be no time to order another drink
or worry about what was never said,

not with the orchestra sliding into the sea
and all our attention devoted to humming
whatever it was they were playing.

(poem by Billy Collins, found in Sailing Alone Around the Room)

Saturday, April 12, 2008


the boy is back in town!!!
and the current
spontaneous buzz
is synchronised-car-dancing,
to whatever's blasting on the airwaves:
today it's a re-mix of
the James Bond theme..
*go on, turn up your sound and
dance like no one's watching!!!*

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ninety-three seconds pre-espresso at our place

moi: (sorting through bills and talking to Bulldog as he puts lovingly-made porridge into breakfast bowls) ...oh, and we have to pay the Catholics (R14's school fees)...
S10: mum, what's a Catholic?
moi: well there's Catholics, and there's Protestants, and they're all Christians.
S10: what's a Protestant?
moi: Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians: they're Protestants, not Catholics.
S10: what's a Prostitute?
moi: *evah so nonchalantly* ok, you know what sex is? well, mummy and daddy have sex, you know.
people pay a prostitute to have sex. *getting a little mixed up* and, well, mummy and daddy love each other and...
S10: *the penny drops* oh, so you and Dad don't get money for it?
moi: uh, no.
S10: ok. *begins eating porridge*
(twenty-nine seconds pass)
S10: mum, what's a Protestant??
moi: *various series-es of bisecting/unbisecting circles and short/unboring history lessons flash through head but all are momentarily interrupted*
M6: *sobs* mu-u-u-um! i don't like Dad any more: he put RAISINS in my Po-O-O-oRRi-i-i-idge!!!
moi: *zips back into kitchen and va-vooms plain porridge into the microwave for two lads who are anti-raisins while listening to J12's treatise on the benefits of eating raisins separately to the porridge. wonders when the P-chat will re-emerge with S10 who has now gone off to play guitar. goes off in search of own raisin-porridge and an espresso. make that two espressos*

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Way Forward

The monthly cycle is a wondrously predictable thing - for the woman. For everyone else, it's helpful to have a few signposts.

This month, I've had the hanging my balls on the electric fence week and the wearing my heart on my sleeve week. This week I'm writing lists and ticking boxes (which incidentally is the kiwi-kids least fave week, cos i have balls the size of Texas), because next week i'll have too many balls in the air
and my head will be full of candy floss.
And then I get to do it all again next month.

Nearly two years ago *boggle* when Bulldog and I went global tripping, the phrase that all the cool kids were using was "It's the way forward!" as in, whatever you fancy doing/thinking/eating right at this moment is the thing that all the cool kids are doing/thinking/eating, so let's do it/go there/eat that.

It's taken me four months to Pay It Forward. But in recognition of
this week's List-Writing And Box-Ticking, here are katie's sparkly offerings:

*close your eyes if you prefer surprises*

cos i'm a great believer in feeling all the pressies under the Christmas tree... so here's a sneaky peep:
for lauz and barb and abbs (you luffly girls get to pay it forward now too!!!) and a speshal bracelet for my fave Hiks-Hippie's Daughter *katie blows a kiss to sarah!*
these are all the same theme, but each is unique, depending on how many brothers/sisters/kiddos you have (lauz, you have *three* sparkly crystals in your bracelet!)

and in the spirit of keeping the love going around the universe, and in celebration of
all things red and angelic (or devilly, as the case may be)
(including a cinderella slipper to hang off your keyring, cos you've found your handsome prince lol) these are for nikki...

yeah, sparkly is *definitely* The Way Forward.

Monday, April 07, 2008

calling all gym bunnies

yep, we just got back from the gym. i'm recording my progress here cos i keep losing track of all my pieces of paper. well actually i have an exercise journal, but i keep forgetting to take it lol.

katie's typical gym workout =
20 minutes on rowing machine 4307m (2:08 min/500m)
*OR* 20 minutes cross trainer 3.0km (max heartbeat/min 160 - 170)
head trickling sweat. feeling fine.

weights machines:
(of the various push-me-pull-you varieties)
lat pull downs 30kg 12 reps
chest press 20 - 25kg 12 reps
vertical row 25 kg 12 reps
tricep extension 25 kg 12 reps
leg press 40kg 12 reps
calf raises 40kg 20 reps

floor mat:
abs: four different pilates-exercises including obliques 12 reps
mari's magical sit ups 12
little stretch/cool down
total workout time: 45 mins

so my question is:
is this a reasonable workout?
cos my only comparison is Bulldog aka Arnie Schwarzenegger, and i'm a chick. my goal is 45 - 50 mins at the *gym* one day, and 20 mins *pilates* the next. in reality i'm exercising 4 - 5 times a week.

what exercise are all you sparkly peeps doing?

please inspire me cos daylight saving has just ended which means that we're heading into unbikini weather
(and i'm terrified i'm gonna fall off the wagon and start eating all the pies)!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

sweet escape

we've sent Bulldog off on a Head Trip today.
and because i am so sick of tins of tuna for lunch, and i need to fill up on something bikini-ish *so that* i don't hog into the kiddos' hot chippies on the beach in half an hour, i have just whipped up the Sexiest *Pumpkin Pie* in The Sunny Bay:

gently fry 2 onions.
in another pot, simmer cubes of pumpkin for 5 mins.
chop up fresh parsley.
gently toss all together in onion pan, and pour over four eggs (beaten with a splash of milk) and mr salt and mrs pepper
think about adding feta and fresh basil
next time

cook on low heat until egg is firmly set around the edges.
transfer whole pan into the oven and fan grill for 5 mins until the egg is cooked.
eat a quarter of the pie.
still feel hungry and go back for seconds.
feel ridiculously full and snap this shot:
grab bikini and go off on own sweet beach escape with the kiddos,
all listening to Gwen on *loud*...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

*quizzical glance*

oh k, am i overdoing the QUIZ thang? cos i just found this one too and i like it much better than the PUNKtuation one.

You Are a Newborn Soul

You are tolerant, accepting, and willing to give anyone a chance. On the flip side, you're easy to read and easily influenced by others.

You have a fresh perspective on life, and you can be very creative. Nonconformist and nontraditional, you've never met anyone who's like you.

Inventive and artistic, you like to be a trendsetter. You have an upbeat spirit and you like almost everything.

You make friends easily and often have long standing friendships. Impulsive and trusting, you fall in love a little too easily.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul.

fancy a spot of *soul-searching*???
*kate falls off chair lol at own pun*
just click:

Friday, April 04, 2008

flower girl

these little pretties
are popping up in all four corners of The Secret Garden. they look like mini pavlovas and are *so* inviting.
oh, and my luffly friend Louise came back from Thailand two days ago and she has brought me a wee gifty:
this exquisite fabric,
which is actually a wrap-around skirt. it's so cheerful! i think it's gonna take all my strength *not* to turn it into part of R14's next quilt. yep, in a month or three the weather will be conducive to snuggling up with a spot of sewing... and we are starting to get *ideas* already!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Maybe This Explains My Spelling Ninja-ness?

cos it's getting me into serious trouble.
*katie apologises to the universe*

You Are An Exclamation Point

You are a bundle of... well, something.
You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.
You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.
Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.
You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.
(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)
You excel in: Public speaking
You get along best with: the Dash

well, the public speaking thing is twaddle, cos i get Serious Stage Fright and all my thoughts Swirl Around The Room
(unless i have a pre-written speech in front of me).

so then, are you a DASH? cos that's apparently my soulmate.
peace out X

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

feijoa-ing frenzy

it's a quarter past seven at night and dusk is swiftly falling, but that hasn't discouraged four little entrepreneurs. an hour earlier, R14 detected that several feijoas had already fallen from our tree in the back yard, and as the kiwi kids rushed outside to gather the treasure and start slurping it, a plan was quickly formed. out came the plastic bags and woozie made a sign and lookit:
the kids are all at the gate, flagging down cars... and these fruity feijoas are selling like hotcakes!!! yessiree, in twenty minutes, the kiddos've made *six* whole dollars!!!
so come on over and open your wallet and say after me, "help yourself!" and we'll swap ya for some fresh organic feijoas.
oh, *your* tree is burdened with fruit too? then maybe we can swap feijoa recipes instead...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

home's cool

Last week sometime, Cesca asked me:
Hey, just a question, maybe you could answer it in a post as I'd LOVE to know!! Why only homeschool for primary years? Most homeschoolers I know do the whole lot (or take the kids out at pre-teens and homeschool, but that's more to do with problems at school anyway).

The short answer:
There is no such thing as the perfect world. And in any case, I'm a paradox, and you know I like the best of both worlds.

The unbelieveably long answer including a whole lotta history. Well, this blog is a trip inside my head, to be sure:
When I was a little girl, I always said I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. So I duly finished high school and went to Teachers' Training College, where I finally learned the secrets of writing neatly. Firstly, I liked the idea of beautiful handwriting; secondly, I was ready to learn. Thirdly, the environment was conducive to learning: it was a teachers' college, after all.

Two-thirds of the way through my teacher training, Bulldog and I conceived D18. I was nineteen, he was twenty-one. Thankfully, the College was extremely understanding, and when D18 was born in late August the following year, they gave me eight weeks off to bond with my baby. Together Bulldog and I embarked on our journey of growing up and becoming parents within four months of leaving home. We celebrated our first blissful summer playing house and babies. Bulldog was half way through his tertiary study too, and so the following February we made the momentous decision that I would spend two more years becoming a certificated teacher while he continued to study full time and be a House Dad. It was heart-wrenching, weaning D18 at five months old and going off to a classroom, but delicious and wonderful having thirty beautiful six year olds in my care every day. We learned together and discovered nature together and read stories under the big tree and painted and swam and wrote class stories and made Hot Cross Buns together. We sketched each other all dressed in hats and I told them lovely updates of D18's baby progress and toddler progress. I wrote all D18's achievements and new words in a journal so that I wouldn't forget him while I was juggling the new wife/mommy/teacher thing. It was a huge learning curve for all of us.

When D18 turned two and a half, and Bulldog had been teaching in a classroom for half a year too, we decided to come home. I had missed two and a half years of the awake hours of D18's life and felt that it was definitely time to build a relationship with my son; and we had already spent six months trying to conceive R14, without success.

That was the beginning of Home Education. I remember receiving a note and a basket filled with crisp green apples from one of my lovely class mums, saying, "I was sad to hear that you are leaving, but I am very happy to know why." That basket still rests on our bench, holding our keys.

It took D18 and me a while to find our groove at home. We played with friends and cooked the dinner and hung out the washing together, counting pegs and grouping colours as we hung. We read thousands of stories and took photos and made books of our own stories and danced and bounced on the trampoline together. We started a wonderful Home Kindy with friends, hanging out once a week to paint and eat and sing and play.

When D18 was approaching four, a beautiful little girl was born. R14 was our newest little kiwi and we were all captivated by her. Over her first year I watched as familial love expanded exponentially and our two children developed a close bond; they grew up together, learning from each other, becoming friends. It was my hippie friend Helen who first suggested the idea of Home Education to me. She had three children at that time, and lived up North in a little town in the country, and home educated her kids. She said, "Five's too young for school. New Zealand law says that children don't have to go to school until they're six." I wasn't convinced at first, so I went up to the local primary school and spent two days relief teaching in a classroom. There were close to forty children in one room and it was mayhem. I immediately thought that we'd try school at home for a year. We did. We liked it. At the end of that year we had another little kiwi come to join us, the peaceful J12. We decided that this Home Educating lark suited us, and committed ourselves to it for another year. So we all played house and babies; D18 learned to read, R14 learned her alphabet, and my Philosophy of Education was beginning to form. Not without hiccups. Initially we tried to recreate the classroom at home, one year attempting nine different subjects. By then I was pregnant with the effervescent S10. It just about killed us.

Thankfully I saw sense and packed all the subjects back into the box. From then on, I started to explain our days as "We do life, with school added on." Lots of mates, lots of play, lots of cool experiences, lots of reading, lots of fun, and lots of housework lol. Ten years later I still have trouble articulating our Philosophy of Education. I do have a few strong beliefs, however. I believe that each child is born gifted. Each has been given their own special loves, desires, abilities. It's my job to create an environment where the whole child can be nurtured. I believe that at a young age learning happens best through play. Why would I interrupt J12 and M6's creative "stock exchange" game with the cuisenaire rods this morning to fill in a page of maths sums? Will we get to the maths sums? Maybe tomorrow. The kids are all a year ahead of their peers in maths anyway.

When my children were ready to crawl, they crawled. When they were ready to walk, they walked. Oh, sure, we held their hands and clapped and cheered them on. But the readiness came from the child. It's the same with learning to read, or write, or memorising the Times Tables. The child shows readiness, the parent responds with encouragement and a bit of direction. There's a whole lot of input from me as required, but it's child-directed, not teacher-directed. The children have all this time to discover who they are and to learn through play. We go off in search of experts to take us bush walking and kayaking and shooting and learning french and how to play the piano and other musical instruments and we meet friends to have picnics and play on the beach (ah, we do so *love* the beach).

And as we have continued our Education journey, I have come to trust each child that when he/she is ready to learn the next thing (whatever that may be) he/she will just go off and do it, even if it takes until age seventeen to learn to write letters neatly. Of course there's nothing wrong with a bit of practice, I'm just not going to throw marshmallows at anyone's head... unless they open their mouth.

One boy + a bunch of onions + a bit of kiwi ingenuity = the beginnings of tonight's delicious pasta sauce

Education happens all the time. See the quote at the top of my sidebar? "Happy hearts and happy faces, happy play in grassy places. That was how, in ancient ages, children grew to kings and sages."
That's the essence of why I do what I do. I believe in the Big Wide Open Spaces. I believe in a thing called love. *grin* I love this lifestyle of learning together, growing together, developing a strong family bond and sharing each others' worlds.

So why do we give our children the opportunity to go into a classroom at age thirteen?
Compromise, my darling. The best of both worlds. Even though I say I don't believe in the classroom, Bulldog teaches at high school. We are joined by the bonds of love and nothing can track that. (movie line) So it works this way for us: I hang with the kiddos during the first half of their school years, they get to hang with him during the second half. And be inspired by teaching professionals who have strengths in Physics or History or English or French. And individuate from me. And try debating at a regional level. And act in the school stage production. And sing in the school choir
. And get singing lessons for free! And travel to exotic locations (watch this space). And continue developing their passions in a more formal environment. (Just in case there's any gaps in their learning, lol.) Our first two children have had the awesome opportunity of being in their Daddy's maths class. He is in their world, they're in his. It's been an easy transition because they are ready, er, to grow up. (movie line)

Mr G. summed it up quite nicely yesterday when he said,
"I think it was the best choice we ever made for our kids and the quality of our family's life. Having primarily one income prohibited us from having a lot of "stuff" and "extras" but I credit homeschooling for giving our kids the freedom to be themselves and learn how to learn naturally and with passion. And to take responsibility for their own education."

And so far, for our kiwi kids, it's been a beautiful equation.
Of course we are still on the journey. Somewhere around the corner there are the million dollar questions awaiting us:
Where to from here? What will happen with the last three lads? Will they go to school too?
Well, I can't tell just yet: you know we only take one year at a time.