Thursday, April 17, 2014

stills: in the nest

 

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Shots for April #7vignettes over on instagram. {Come and say hi over on instagram @featherandnest} Every time I think of Enid Blyton books I’m reminded of cosy times as a little girl, snuggled up in my yellow doona in my yellow wooden bed reading away or being read to by my mum. Love those memories and love that my Enchanted Wood copy is yellow. It was my favourite colour all through my childhood and into my 20’s. I even painted my kitchen yellow! After that  I hated yellow with a passion ….for all of my 30’s. Now in my….ahem…40’s, yellow is back baby. Loving it again. I’m fickle like that.                                                                 

My sideboard right now with a gorgeous new navy blue addition – thank you so much to the lovely, Barbara:)

I call this one: Red geranium in brown bottle. Artistic of me, huh?

Tea time.

More vignetting.                                                                                     

 

How are things in your nest?

Kim x

Saturday, April 12, 2014

melbourne pretties

 

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I’d forgotten how pretty the old buildings in the city are. Melbourne is full to the brim of gorgeous old shop faces and houses and warehouses that have been painted all different colours and restored to keep the city scape looking fresh and vibrant as well as maintaining it’s heritage and background. I love that. I could walk up and down these streets all day and not get sick of looking at the shop fronts. So much prettiness in Melbourne, particularly on Chapel Street where we spent a little bit of time.

 

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These city streets are a colour consultant’s delight!

 

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I love these pink and grey and white ones.

 

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Aren’t they pretty?

And the black with cream is so elegant. There’s a lot of black paint in Melbourne, to go with the clothes everyone wears;) It’s used on modern, modern buildings and cafes and it’s used on the heritage ones. I like it. Bega needs more of it. Just saying.

 

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This old building was just a couple of buildings down from where we stayed near St Kilda. Loved it.

 

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Vespers were everywhere. They park them on the footpaths and right by cafes and shops. It was fun seeing them pop up all over the place and the colours are gorgeous. I wished I’d photographed more than one.

 

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Have you been to Melbourne recently? Ever? What do you think of the city scape? Any favourite hang outs?

 

Kim x

Monday, April 7, 2014

lately and ramblings…

 

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/My cousin’s wedding/ Peppermint tea with a friend/ Games day with the homeschoolers /Lew’s drawing of Sunny/ The launch of Pip magazine/ baking lots of berry and rhubarb crumbles /Making pumpkin soup from my home grown butternuts/ Pickling cucumbers/

Amidst the lovely, drizzly rainy days we’ve been keeping busy. 

Lew’s been having fun on Code Academy. It’s hurting my head but I’m trying to follow along as well. I’m loving the drawings he’s been doing lately. Can’t wait to see more chooky ones.

I have lots of plans for the next stage of the garden, now to get in and get the ball rolling. The cooler days are helping me get all garden motivated. There’s a lot of mowing and whipper snipping to do and plenty of weeds to be pulling out. Almost my entire veggie garden needs digging over and preparing for the winter crop.

We’ve had some really fun homeschooling get togethers lately. The last one was a games day. I love it when the parents and kids run around together. It’s really, really fun and good for our group.

My Dad gave me a lovely load of limb wood the other day. I think it might be getting close to lighting our first fire for the season. I love this weather!

The launch of Pip magazine was pretty exciting. Robyn Rosenfeldt is a nice and talented girl and she also happens to be local. She was once the editor for Sustain magazine which was also locally produced. Pip is a national permaculture magazine and it's funky and cool and I’m subscribing to it. I’m sure it’s going to do really, really well. Go, Robyn!

OK, well that’s enough rambling from me, I’m sure. How about you? How’s your past week been? Any plans for the week ahead?

Kim x

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Unschooling Conference with Sandra Dodd in Melbourne {ALLive}

 

 

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Well, we are back from the bright city lights of Melbourne. It doesn’t take long to settle back into the normal routines of life and the peace and tranquillity that is our life in the country. But it’s definitely taken me far too long to get writing again. This poor little nesty space has been a little neglected over this past week or so but be assured {and hopefully not bored! Ha, poet and I know it!} that there’ll be plenty more to make up for my absence. You’re happy about that aren’t you? Oh yes, indeedy you are.

Are you?

 

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So, many of you would know that Lew and I went for a little trip down to Melbourne recently, where we went to an unschooling conference. Sandra Dodd was guest speaker.  Really, really cool.

It was a really cool conference and so many lovely things happened there. I’m feeling  that extra bit of motivation and oomf now, something I think I was needing. Oomf to be a more inspiring, encouraging, helpful facilitator to Lew’s learning. Nothing like getting together with a bunch of unschooling parents AND Sandra Dodd to get that oomph a happening.

 

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This photo of Sandra is from her website

 

What a privilege it was to finally meet in real life the person who has been most influential in my decision to unschool Lew. She is also the person whom I have learnt most about what it is to unschool, from.

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In the early days of our unschooling journey I felt pretty alone. I had stumbled across Sandra Dodd’s Unschooling website right at that pinnacle time, the time when I needed to decide what sort of education Lew would enter into. After reading most of Sandra’s website {that’s a lot of reading!} I felt able to get moving along our unschooling path. I was the only person I knew in my local area who was homeschooling so my connections and support network online became super important. Not too far down the track though, I met Debbie, a fellow homeschooler and new unschooler, who has a daughter older than Lew. Together we started up our local natural learners group and became members of a few unschooling groups online, one of which was Sandra’s group, Always Learning. You can read about my early days of unschooling here and here and here. But that was then.

 

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So, the conference. It really was a wonderful time. Meeting Sandra was definitely a highlight. Hearing her chat about unschooling and the stories of lovely unschooling times with her 3 kids was a delight. She just wants the best for unschooling families. Making the lives of children more fun, more interesting more connected is her passion and it certainly is contagious:)

Sandra talked about choices and making better choices all the time. There’s something Sandra says over and over and over again in her website articles and posts, in her conference chats and in her facebook and yahoo groups - "Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch." It’s better to take your time with unschooling, go gently and go step by step. Making better choices slowly will help in making a good unschooling environment for our children. Too many people read a little bit about unschooling and then jump right into the deep, deep, murky, super-unclear water only to find they are beginning to drown and not sure how to resurface and take a breath.

I’ve known people who have done this. They’ve taken their kids from a conventional schooling with normal rules for learning and rules for home life and then they’ve said : “right, we are unschooling now so go do whatever you want to do, kids.” That pretty much always ends in tears. Much better to go gently and ease in. Read and then try and then watch your kids. Then try some more. It can be way too overwhelming to have too much change in the home all of a sudden. Bit by bit, day by day is much better.

Sandra talked a lot about the importance of being connected with our kids and being interested in what they are doing. Sharing in their learning and delighting in them is definitely a huge part of what makes unschooling really work within a family. Sometimes it’s hard to show interest in something we may never have found important or worthwhile. I know I’ve written about that exact thing before {I linked to it up there but here it is again if you don’t feel like scrolling all the way back up}. There were times when  I struggled, when Lew was much, much younger and we were starting out on our unschooling journey, with TV shows he wanted to watch when and then when he became really keen on Spiderman figurines and also creepy looking monstery things. The moment I shifted from being all: ‘hmmm, what a waste of time’ and ‘damaging!’, to: ‘wow, I can so see what you’re getting out of this. It’s really cool!’ I felt connection. I felt Lew loosen up and feel safe knowing that I wasn’t poo-pooing him and his interests but I was right there alongside him. It’s continued right through his childhood – monster trucks and scary creatures and knives and gaming and it really just keeps on continuing. How cool, because I get to be shown all of the new amazingly cool things that I probably would never have got into on my own. It’s opened up my world and made it richer and more fun, that’s for sure. But more importantly, it helps keep me connected with my child and in partnership with him.

 

Another highlight for me was meeting these two cool cats.

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The lovely Karen who blogs over at Unshackled Me and the equally as lovely Jo, who blogs over at Unbounded Oceans. I’ve been friends with these two for years now but we hadn’t ever met IRL. It was so exciting meeting them in person and being able to spend 2 whole days hanging out with them and hearing each one of them speak about their unschooling experiences.

 

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I met so many other unschooling people too who I now feel really connected to. Some of them I had met online in unschooling groups and facebook interactions, others I was hearing of and meeting for the very first time. Tan and John and Claire and Vanessa and Katherine – so lovely to meet you guys:)  I hope we can keep in touch and maybe have a regular conference each year to touch base again.  That would be awesome.

 

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  the lovely, Tan on my right

 

Having that time set aside to spend hearing about unschooling and the experiences of others, chatting and sharing and learning from one another certainly has helped me be a better mum. Knowing that others are treading a similar path with their children and who are finding this path a really great one to be on has encouraged me and given me the support that I know is there if ever I need it. When, I need it.

 

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While we were down in Melbourne two channel 9 TV shows discussed unschooling. One was 60 Minutes, the other, Mornings. The Mornings show featured Sandra up against David Zyngier. He’s guy they always seem to get to be the ‘anti-unschooling’ one on everything I’ve seen on Australian media over the past 12 months. I thought it went well. Sandra spoke well. Without being inflammatory towards David Zyngier, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, his arguments against unschooling are extremely under-researched and embarrassingly naive. His case is always the same: Children can not learn to read without a professionally trained person teaching them. Ummmm, hello, come out from under your rock and meet some real life kids who have learnt to read without a trained teacher. Go to a school and meet them. Go to an unschooling get together and meet them. They are everywhere. I’ve talked about David Zyngier’s comments before, here if you’d like a recap. I might talk more about them another time. I’ll definitely talk more about the 60 Minutes report….later on.

If you are interested in unschooling and Sandra Dodd’s writings you might find these cool:)

The Power of Choices

Active Unschooling

Deschooling

Learning

Strewing

 

But now  I want to hear about what you’ve been up to? Are you enjoying the autumn? Have you been in the garden? Leave me a comment and fill me in…please???

 

Kim x

 

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PS Trams are pretty cool. More on them later….

Thursday, March 20, 2014

unschooling and some links

 

 

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Sunny stealing Lew’s sandwich right out of his hands:)

 

Well, tomorrow Lew and I are off to Melbourne for a little trip away. The main reason we are going is for the Unschooling Conference that will be happening on Saturday and Sunday. The lovely Sandra Dodd will be speaking about all things unschooling and I can’t wait to finally meet her after all of these years of contact via her online groups and emails.

 

Sandra’s unschooling website was where our unschooling journey began. When Lew was 4 I was still searching to find the best kind of ‘education’ for him. I wasn’t convinced that public education would be the place for him and I was toying with a few alternative ideas, one of which was steiner education. I had some reservations about steiner due to the spiritual elements that would clash with my own beliefs but I couldn’t find anything else that felt right. That’s when I fell across unschooling via Sandra’s writing. Unschooling fit the bill perfectly. It felt like an extension of how we were already living and it gelled so beautifully with my ideas about how children learn best and about parenting in general.

The rest is history. We’ve been on the unschooling path now for almost 10 years and it’s been a really cool choice for us as a family and for Lew in particular.

I’m really excited to be meeting Sandra and some of my other unschooling online Aussie friends {like: Karen and Jo} who I feel like I know so well from all of the years we’ve spent chatting and learning together. Can’t wait!

 

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same photo as up there but in watercolour artist app which I’m loving!

 

So here’s a bit of a list of unschooling spots to visit, just in case you want to:)

* Sandra's site

* An article by Pam Sorooshian

* Joyce Fetteroll's website

* A List of Grown Up Unschoolers Chat about Unschooling from this site Yes I Can Write

 

And some stuff I’ve written along the way:

* A Mum Interviews Her Son About Unschooling

* A Response to Unschooling in the Media

* Why Unschooling is Better Than Conventional Schooling {and I didn't choose that title!}

* A Feather & Nest Interview With Sandra Dodd

* The Unschooling Unmanual – an article in that book:)

 

Have fun while I’m away and I look forward to seeing you  here for a cuppa and a chat when I get back.

 

 

Kim x

Monday, March 17, 2014

unschooling artist at work

 

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Some of Lew’s art work from last week.

Concept art sketches and ideas….

 

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Art class pastel pieces: Drawings had to be in a room with a source of light showing the light and dark.

 

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The unschooler’s art desk….

 

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The beginnings of a drawing of Red Hood from Batman. Pastels have entered the building:)

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Lew’s also been working on a cool project for his guitar teacher. It’s a little bit out of his comfort zone but he’s determined to get it done.

 

So, how was last week for you? What did you get up to? Any creative pursuits?

 

Kim x

Sunday, March 16, 2014

sick chickens update

 

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She’s alive and we are stoked!

You might remember me mentioning our sick chickens not too long ago – chickens with the chicken pox. For those of you who haven’t read that post, you can read it here but a quick re-telling: Sweet Pea and her seven chicks all contracted chicken pox {perhaps one didn’t as it didn’t ever get any visible pox} a couple of weeks ago. Four chicks died from the pox getting into the mouth, trachea and respiratory system and it causing a secondary respiratory infection. Diagnosed by me, the chicken-expert-NOT, Ms Google, and some chicken expert friends. The vet also tended to agree in the end. It was sad, sad, sad.

 

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We managed to keep one going and then discovered that there is an antibiotic they can have to treat a secondary infection caused by the pox. We were determined to do everything we could for this little one and managed to get antibiotics into her, as well as all of the vitamins and potions we had given her along the way.

It seems to have worked and she is now well and truly on the mend. She has now had a couple of  outings with her family during the day though we still bring her inside at night. Perhaps tonight she could stay out all night? We are feeling a little over protective of her. Can you tell?

 

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And yes, we are still thinking she’s a girl. And if Lew and I are right with our buff Pekin boy/girl determining we will be posting about it and claiming chook experts extraordinaire because nowhere online can we find the fantastically amazing information we feel we have found.

So, stay tuned to this space because you know you want to be among the first to see our amazing research and chook expert extraordinaire skill all aired online.

Yes you do!

 

Kim x

Thursday, March 13, 2014

mother mountain forge

 

Photo from Mothermountain

So, every Tuesday our natural learners group gets together to do something fun, most weeks of the year. Sometimes we go to the beach, other times it’s a more organised affair. This past Tuesday we did something really cool – we visited a local blacksmith and forge, Mother Mountain forge at the foot of a beautiful mountain in our local valley. 

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The couple who run Mother Mountain, Iain and Sarah Hamilton, are such generous people. They kindly open their property and forge up each week so that local people can see a real live blacksmith at work and get all inspired about melting and bashing metal into cool things.

 

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Iain began blacksmithing just like all of us on Tuesday, on the other side of the roped off area, admiring a skilled blacksmith at work. He decided blacksmithing was something he’d like to do so about 14 years ago he got himself a blacksmithing basics book and off he went. He didn’t do a course or an apprenticeship. He didn’t have a teacher by his side. He is totally self taught. Little by little, bit by bit, Iain’s blacksmithing skills grew. Now, 14 years on, Iain is a top notch metal craftsman.

 

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The perfect natural learning story, really. An interest is found. A spark is ignited, and in the case of blacksmithing, a spark is ignited in more ways than one! Passion driven learning at it’s best. That little hobby, totally self taught hobby,  has now become Iain’s main source of income. Fancy that? Being able to earn money doing what you love? See, I told you it was a natural learning story.

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I’m not sure if Iain is even aware of the terms natural learning or unschooling. But what he did over that extremely generous hour and a half of demonstration time,  while we all stood mesmerised, was give our kids hope and inspiration that they too can take their interests, those tiny little sparks, and turn them into wonderfully rich life experiences. Interest driven learning beats any other form of learning hands down. Don’t you think? The result is always a passionate, motivated, determined and highly skilled person.

 

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Iain answered question after question after question. No hesitation. The little kids, who I hadn’t imagined standing there for over an hour and a half, were glued to Iain’s glowing metal creations and hammer wielding. We all were.

 

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And to top it all off, he made a snake out of rio to show us how any old bit of metal can become something beautiful and useful and really cool.

 

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And, hello, guess who got to take that little snake home? Yes, I did. I felt a little guilty and greedy accepting the snake but I clung tightly with all 8 fingers and 2 thumbs and managed to get that baby in the car without a glitch. How lucky am I?

 

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Afterwards we all headed to the lovely Cobargo to eat lunch and hang out.

What a fun day. What cool kids. What a lovely life  we have right at our fingertips, every single moment.

Blessed or what?

Oh, and if you’re interested in blacksmithing or buying some of Iain’s cool stuff then you can visit their website here or pop on over to their facebook page and say hi. They are the friendliest, loveliest people:)

 

Kim x