Cosmic Bowling: A Win-Win Solution

Recently my thirteen year old son was excited about attending a youth event with some friends. It sounded like it was going to be heaps of fun, and my ten year old daughter was *not* a happy girl about missing out. We had lots of discussion about her reasons for wanting to go, and my reasons for not wanting her to go. They weren’t easy conversations!! These things aren’t resolved easily and quickly; they are messy, emotional and complex.

Well, it could be “easy and quick” if I just put my foot down, controlling-parenting-style, and said, “You’re not going, and that’s that! And don’t let me hear you complain about it. I’m your parent, and you’ll do as I say!”

It would also be “easy and quick” if I threw caution to the wind, ignored my mothering-instinct and went with the permissive-anything-goes parenting style, simply saying, “Fine! Well just go then! It’s not like I can stop you anyway” or “Whatever you want, dear. You know what’s best…..”

With both of those options, however, I would be left with a seemingly quick solution, but one that overlooked the deeper issues going on:

  • My child had some big feelings about her desire to go and about the option of missing out.
  • I had some valid concerns about her going (it was an event aimed at and marketed to all the local high schools; I knew of no child her age who was attending) and felt I would be negligent to drop her off at that type of scenario.
  • Our relationship was more important than either of us “winning”.
  • She had some valid needs underneath her feelings: the need to be heard, the need for social interaction, and the need for FUN!
  • I had at least one valid need too: the need to provide safety for my daughter.

So with all of that going on, we talked. And listened. And felt our big feelings together.

We also brainstormed possible solutions.

Eventually we found a solution that honoured both of our feelings and met our needs: COSMIC BOWLING!!

It happened to be a Friday night, and this was something my daughter had never done before. She loves ten-pin bowling, loves hanging out with friends, loves dancing and music and pretty lights, and all up it seemed like the perfect alternative to a hall full of high schoolers on a Friday night! It didn’t happen without quite a lot of effort on my part, and also quite a bit of stress: there were enquiries to be made, many text messages to friends, lots of planning, and driving to a few different suburbs to pick up some playmates. But it was so very, very worth it. The smiles on their faces and the sound of their laughter were confirmation that looking for a win-win solution and honouring both of our feelings and needs was the best possible investment of my time and energy. I’m sure, too, that the rewards of the process will have a flow-on effect to other similar scenarios that are sure to crop up in the years ahead.

It was also wonderful for our relationship. She felt validated and valued. She knew I was on her team and that I was trying my hardest to help her have a great night, while staying true to what was important to me.

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All in all, it was a win-win solution to a tricky problem and well worth putting in the emotional investment. I’d love to hear some other stories of people working for a win-win, where everyone’s feelings and needs are respected, and mutually agreeable solutions are sought and found. It can be done! Maybe not always, and maybe not without some time and effort, but it is definitely worth working towards!

Police, Rescue and Maritime Fun

My youngest, now ten, is totally fascinated by all things “Rescue”. If we ever see an emergency vehicle with siren blasting and lights flashing, she wants me to follow it. She is a sweet and sensitive soul and knows that what is at the other end of that vehicle’s journey could be quite upsetting, yet her passion persists and has led to some rather interesting experiences and discussions!

Recently, we had a couple of “safer” options for exploring this passion. Firstly, we attended an information day put on by the Police Force, which was really interesting. They had all types of police and rescue operations represented, even including deep sea divers and high speed police boats. Here’s a bit of a peep.

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Talking to the deep sea rescue diver was one of the highlights! Although M
Talking to the deep sea rescue diver was one of the highlights! Although Miss 10 assures me she would NEVER do that for a job!

Not long afterwards, we found out about a pretty cool exhibition called “Rescue” that was on display in a neighbouring city, so we decided to check it out. Even if something like this is a few hours away, it is so worthwhile doing whatever we can to support our children’s interests. It is the essence of unschooling! Without our practical and active support of whatever it is they are interested in, unschooling will not flourish. (One of the greatest myths about unschooling is that it is “doing nothing” when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth.)

In this case, taking her to the second exhibition required arranging care for one other child, organising transport including a lift and four train journeys, and spending a day doing something I wasn’t particularly interested in, myself. What I WAS interested in was my daughter, and supporting her passion, and because of that, I found authentic joy in the experience without having to pretend or fake it.

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There were quite a few hands on (literally!) activities to have a go at
There were quite a few hands on (literally!) activities to have a go at

All in all, in spite of the fun we managed to have, the exhibition was somewhat disappointing, being aimed at a younger age group. There really wasn’t a whole lot there that was new or overly interesting, but we managed to have a good time regardless. We certainly had a lot of fun with the recording studio. The above video was the final attempt after an awful lot of bloopers and laughter!

One of the things I’ve found to be awesome about this life is the unexpected treasures along the way. When things don’t go to plan, there is usually something different to enjoy that might not be what we’d gone looking for, but ends up just as interesting and enjoyable, if not more!

Whilst the exhibit wasn’t everything we’d hoped it would be, the Maritime Museum where it was held was filled with interesting things to explore, and we ended up doing just that right up until closing time!

The detail in this display was amazing, yet we felt sad looking at it once we realised it was depicting an old whaling boat.
The detail in this display was amazing, yet we felt sad looking at it once we realised it was depicting an old whaling boat.
You'd be amazed how long we stayed at this display for!
You’d be amazed how long we stayed at this display for!
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There were hands on activities scattered all throughout the museum
Having fun with the International Code of Signals from 1902
Having fun with the 1902 International Code of Signals for communication between naval ships
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Which swimming costume would you choose?
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A creative use for old beer cans. They tell us it actually floats, too!
Watching her face light up as she discovers the exhibits brings joy to my soul
Watching her face light up as she discovers the exhibits brings joy to my soul

So in the end, having traveled over three hours to see a “Rescue exhibition”, it ended up being the Maritime Museum that really grabbed our attention. I found myself feeling very thankful that we weren’t there on a pre-arranged school excursion, complete with question and answer sheets to complete as we went around the exhibition, having to stick to a program pre-determined by a teacher. Instead, we were free to explore whatever took our fancy which, as it turned out, wasn’t what we’d gone there to see! Life is a grand adventure, and there is learning in everything we do. Let’s not miss the joy of it, by “sticking to the plan” and limiting the wonder of something unexpected.

“Return to Nim’s Island” World Premiere Movie Event!

Recently my youngest child, aged ten, decided to create a list of things she wants to do before she’s twenty. At the top of the list was a desire to meet Bindi Irwin, of Australia Zoo fame. Molly is an enthusiastic advocate for animal health and well-being, as is Bindi, they are both home schooled, and neither of them are “girly-girls”, so there are many reasons why Molly has chosen Bindi as one of her heroes.

When we found out that Bindi is starring in the upcoming “Return to Nim’s Island” movie, we were stoked. We had loved the books and the first movie so much, both the setting, the story, the characters, and the fact that Nim doesn’t go to school, so the thought of Bindi playing Nim in the sequel to the movie made it even more exciting! When I discovered that Australia Zoo would be hosting the world premiere of the movie, and Bindi would be there to present the screening, I decided to surprise Molly with tickets! She was totally stoked, and we prepared to go.

We had to travel on the same day as the “No 4th Coal Terminal Rally“, so it was a very exhausting day with a rally, an interstate plane trip, a car journey, and all that excitement, but it was SO worth it. We arrived to our motel quite late at night, spent the following day and evening at the zoo, and then flew home the next morning, so Molly didn’t even get the thrill of enjoying the rooftop pool, but nonetheless it was a trip to remember! And what made it extra special was it being a “mum and daughter” weekend. Special times!

We spent the day discovering the zoo, which was a big thing for me with my snake phobia! Molly and one of her brothers went to Australia Zoo on a family holiday one time, but I was too chicken to go to the zoo filled with reptiles, so I made my husband take them. But this trip was something I really wanted to bless my daughter with, and so I decided to face my fears and just go for it! I even – wait for it – stepped foot INSIDE (I kid you not – INside) the snake exhibit! Molly had wanted to go in (of course), and I was standing outside doing some deep breathing when an Australia Zoo worker noticed me. I think she spotted my fear from a mile away, and was, I must admit, so incredibly lovely about it that I took her up on her challenge to just walk inside the first little bit and see the Rainbow Serpent (from Aboriginal Dreamtime stories). I actually did it! Truly! I didn’t love it, but I did do it. I even got a photo of the snake to prove it.

And then, whilst walking through the next exhibit (which wasn’t snakes, thankfully), I discovered that the memory card in the camera wasn’t storing photos properly so we had to reformat it, and the photographic evidence of my snake experience was lost forever. I’m not lying – promise! The other thing you need to know about our day at Australia Zoo was that it was bloody hot! Or maybe I should say sweatingly hot!? I really don’t love the heat, especially when it leaves you dripping in sweat from all the humidity but it was worth it to see the look of delight on my daughter’s face. Here are about a thousand photographs from our day at the zoo, and our night at the movie premiere.

Even the kangaroos needed shelter from the relentless heat
Even the kangaroos needed shelter from the relentless heat
It was SO hot and humid that at one stage I bought us both a bottle of cold water, a frozen drink AND an ice cream to help us cool down!
It was SO hot and humid that at one stage I bought both of us a bottle of cold water, a frozen drink AND an ice cream to help us cool down!
Getting up close and personal with a koala
Getting up close and personal with a koala
One of the things that stood out at the Australia Zoo was the very strong message about animal welfare, which they seem to take very seriously themselves, too.
One of the things that stood out at the Australia Zoo was the very strong message about animal welfare, which they seem to take very seriously themselves, too. These are items that were confiscated at customs.
The newest exhibit is "Africa" and it was really lovely (although a LONG walk in the heat). I know this photo only shows the sign but, well, I really like the photo so I'm putting it here. :)
The newest exhibit is “Africa” and it was really lovely (although a LONG walk in the heat). I know this photo only shows the sign but, well, I really like the photo so I’m putting it here. 🙂
Seeing this cheetah was a HUGE thrill. It is Molly's favourite big cat. The zoo doesn't yet have a cheetah enclosure, but they have a huge amount of land beyond the zoo exhibition areas, so the cheetahs are kept there for now, and taken on long walks, too. We were privileged to spot this one on our long walk back from "Africa". The keepers were feeding it a sardine ice block, as you do.
Seeing this cheetah was a HUGE thrill. It is Molly’s favourite big cat. The zoo doesn’t yet have a cheetah enclosure, but they have a huge amount of land beyond the zoo exhibition areas, so the cheetahs are kept there for now, and taken on long walks, too. We were privileged to spot this one on our way back from “Africa”. The keepers were feeding it a sardine ice block. Yum!
Another dream Molly has is to be a participant on the TV show, "Bindi's Boot Camp", so it was fun to see a display from the show.
Another dream Molly has is to be a participant on the TV show, “Bindi’s Boot Camp”, so it was fun to see the entrance to it.
We loved the tiger show! (The photos are terrible because of the reflection on the glass, sorry.) They feed them milk out of a little carton, and it's one of the tricks they use when they need vets to examine their mouth or teeth.
We loved the tiger show! (The photos are terrible because of the reflection on the glass.) One of the things they did was show us how they feed them milk out of little cartons, which is one of the tricks they use when they need vets to examine their mouth or teeth (from the other side of the safety glass!)
Well that's one way to get a tiger cuddle! We were really impressed with the respectful way the zoo keepers interacted with the tigers before, during and after the show. They spend a lot of time just hanging out with them to build relationship. We were challenged, too, by the plight of the tiger in the wild, so we donated money to obtain an enlarged photo of one of the zoo's tigers. I had an ulterior motive in doing so, thinking it would be the perfect medium for an autograph by Bindi, if we should prove to be so lucky!
Well that’s one way to get a tiger cuddle! We were really impressed with the respectful way the zoo keepers interacted with the tigers before, during and after the show. They spend a lot of time just hanging out with them to build relationship. We were challenged, too, by the plight of the tiger in the wild, so we donated money to obtain an enlarged photo of one of the zoo’s tigers. I had an ulterior motive in doing so, thinking it would be the perfect medium for obtaining an autograph by Bindi, if we should prove to be so lucky!
Getting up close and personal for a photographic opportunity with some of the UNcaged wildlife.
Getting up close and personal for a photographic opportunity with some of the UNcaged wildlife.

And finally, after a long, HOT day at Australia Zoo, the moment we’d been waiting for…. The gates to the public were closed, and only guests for the World Premiere were allowed to stay. We watched enthralled as security officers prepared for the red carpet event, and we waited excitedly for it all to begin. We’d never been to anything like this before! Finally, the first of the distinguished guests began to arrive, and in true Australia Zoo style it was…… two cheetas!

The two cheetahs were born at the zoo two years earlier, so are still very young as far as cheetahs go. It was lovely to see the gentle way the handlers treated them, totally respecting the fact that this one much preferred sardine ice blocks to red carpet!
The two cheetahs were born at the zoo, and are still very young as far as cheetahs go. It was lovely to see the gentle way the handlers treated them, totally respecting the fact that this one much preferred sardine ice blocks to red carpet!
Although she was eventually enticed to tentatively have a little walk along the red carpet, even though it chose not to go up onto the stage.
The shy cheetah was eventually enticed to tentatively walk along the red carpet, although chose not to go up onto the stage.
The second cheetah, on the other hand, couldn't wait to strut her stuff on the red carpet!
The second cheetah, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to strut her stuff on the red carpet!
Such a show off! :)
Such a show off! 🙂 (Not that we minded!)
Next up was a dingo who, whilst never having met a cheetah in his life, was VERY interested in the scent they'd left behind!
Next up was a dingo who, whilst never having met a cheetah in his life, was VERY interested in the scent they’d left behind!
There was such a lovely menagerie of animals treated to the red carpet experience, from wombats, to koalas, to cockatoos, to snakes.....
There was such a menagerie of animals treated to the red carpet experience, from wombats, to koalas, to cockatoos, to camels (well, they didn’t make it up onto the carpet), to snakes…..
It's hard to see them clearly in the photo (other than the big creepy snake - yes, I'm biased), but these three animals actually star in the movie!
It’s hard to see them clearly in the photo (other than the big creepy snake – yes, I’m biased), but these three animals actually star in the movie!
OK I know this is like WAY too many photos, but I just wanted to add this one because if you look closely enough you'll see the sweat coming through their shirts. Just to prove I wasn't lying about how hot it was. Gross, huh? ;)
OK I know this is like WAY too many photos, but I just wanted to add this one because if you look closely enough you’ll see the sweat coming through their shirts. Just to prove I wasn’t lying about how hot it was. Gross, huh? 😉
And finally, cool cars started arriving......
And finally, cool cars & “distinguished” guests of the human variety started arriving……
Like the author of the very wonderful "Nim" books upon which the movie is based.
One of the first was the author of the very wonderful “Nim” books upon which the movie is based.
Of course we were treated to an encounter with Terri and Robert Irwin (complete with snakes, of course - and by the way, how brave am I including a snake photo on my blog!)
Of course we were treated to an encounter with Terri and Robert Irwin (complete with snakes, of course – and by the way, how brave am I including a snake photo on my blog!)
And FINALLY, the person Molly had been most waiting for arrived, not in a stretch limo and a fancy dress, but in an old jeep, wearing jeans, and accompanied by two elephants. PERFECT!
And FINALLY, the person Molly had been most waiting for arrived, not in a stretch limo and a fancy dress (thank goodness), but in an old jeep, wearing jeans, and accompanied by two elephants. PERFECT!
Bindi was definite the star of the moment, but the sun had different ideas, deciding to put the spotlight on her co-star (for this photo at least)
Bindi was definitely the star of the moment, but the setting sun had different ideas, deciding to put the spotlight on her co-star (for this photo at least)
We somehow managed to get Molly's tiger photo under Robert's nose, and he signed it. I must say, he is SO sweet. He's like, "Is it ok if I just write Robert?" Awwww.....
We somehow managed to get Molly’s tiger photo under Robert’s nose, and he signed it. I must say, he is SO sweet. He’s like, “Is it ok if I just write Robert?” Awwww…..
Here is where we begin using my strategy of buying a tiger photo from the zoo (money goes towards saving the tigers) partly for the purposes of trying to get a Bindi autograph. Here we go, in for the kill (surrounded by other people's flimsy bits of paper they're putting in her face). Do you think we have a chance of getting her attention??
Here is where we begin using my strategy of having bought a tiger photo from the zoo (money goes towards saving the tigers) partly for the purposes of trying to get a Bindi autograph. Here we go, in for the kill (surrounded by other people’s flimsy bits of paper they’re putting in her face). Do you think we have a chance of getting her attention??
So she's surrounded by many bits of paper, and swamped by lots and lots of people, when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spots it: "Oh cool! A tiger!" she says (knowing, I guess, that it would have meant a donation to the zoo's save the tiger efforts), and then....
So here she is, surrounded by many bits of paper, and swamped by lots and lots of people, when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spots it: “Oh cool! A tiger!” she says (knowing, I guess, that it would have meant a donation to the zoo’s save the tiger efforts), and then….
The AUTOGRAPH!
The AUTOGRAPH!
And one very, VERY happy girl (I must admit, I shed a tear - it was a beautiful moment, seeing her joy, and feeling the thrill of a successful mission lol)
And one very, VERY happy girl (I must admit, I shed a tear – it was a beautiful moment, seeing her joy, and feeling the thrill of a successful mission lol)
And finally, after a HUGE day (and a very long blog post), the first screening of Return to Nim's Island, on a giant screen at The Crocoseum.
And finally, after a HUGE day (and a very long blog post), we got to sit back and enjoy the first screening of Return to Nim’s Island, on a giant screen at The Crocoseum.
Starring you-know-who
Starring you-know-who
Our verdict of the movie is: GO SEE IT! It's AWESOME! (Better than the first one, even.)
Our verdict of the movie is: GO SEE IT! It’s AWESOME! (Better than the first one, even.)

Here endeth what is possibly my longest blog post ever.

Toys: Science at Play

Our local (free! did you read that? free!) museum has just had a pretty cool exhibition on all about toys. We decided to go check it out with some other homeschooling friends (and one unschooling friend). I was hoping to see some “old fashioned” toys from when I was a kid (back in the “olden days” and all that lol!). We did see a fair bit of that, and some not so old toys, too. I guess it wasn’t just about “old” toys, but rather the science of toys, but that’s cool, it was fun! And we got to play, of course.

Want a peek?

Frogs really do fly!?
Frogs really do fly!?
This particular display about "vibrations" captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
This particular display about “vibrations” captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to play myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to do much playing myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I can't see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or teaching the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for "dumbing down" or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
I can’t see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or “teaching” the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for “dumbing down” or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn't know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America's big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn’t know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
One of my friends who joined us as the museum is not yet unschooling, and observed that the children were "having fun" but "when would they learn something"? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits but noticed their eyes would glaze over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover. A few minutes later, I observed this. It is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly "in the moment".
One of my friends who joined us at the museum is not yet (lol) unschooling, and observed that the children were “having fun” but “when would they learn something”? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits to her kids, but noticed their eyes glazing over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover things, being available and interested, but not stepping into a “teacher” role. A few minutes later, I observed this: it is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly “in the moment”. I observed her similarly engrossed in a few other exhibits during our time at the museum.
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I'm kind of glad I'm not a steel worker though!
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I’m kind of glad I’m not a steel worker though!

Some of the displays of toys in cabinets were quite interesting, although I noticed they were too static to particularly grab the attention of the kids other than a cursory glance as they walked past. I, on the other hand, enjoyed looking back through memory lane and noticing toys I’d played with as a child. Way to make me feel old!! Especially when highlighting o the kids, “Hey, I used to play with that when I was a kid!” and they would be like, “Wow, really???” 😉

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The kids definitely tended to prefer the more hands on activities, which was hardly surprising. I was really thankful that they weren’t there on a school excursion, complete with worksheets trying to get them to focus on answering questions, rather than walking around following their bliss, and *asking* questions (even silent ones inside their own heads) about what they were discovering. I was also glad we hadn’t booked in as a “school” group, because they would have had to go around the exhibition in small groups, spending ten minutes at each station. It was so much more enjoyable and natural for them to stay and linger at certain points, and walk right past other exhibits, and to absorb just what was right for them at that moment.

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This particular display totally reminds me of something out of a Dr Seuss book!

All in all we had a fun time, and the food from the museum cafe was absolutely delicious. An equally important criteria for a successful outing. 🙂