“Not Back to School” Big Day Out, 2013

A new homeschoolers’ social group has recently been formed, for people across quite a broad area, primarily for the purpose of giving the teens and tweens an opportunity to broaden their social circle, to help meet their need to connect with other tweens/teens who don’t go to school.

The first event we’ve managed to get to was about a four hour drive from where we live, but it was SO worthwhile! Jamberoo Action Park has been around for awhile (I even went when I was a teenager, prompting my kids to comment that “It really IS old, then!”) and it is bigger and better than ever, with even more rides on the way. One of the beautiful things about this small theme park is its absolutely gorgeous setting, with the backdrop of the green rolling hills. It is breathtakingly beautiful; one of my favourite parts of the world, in fact (not that I’ve been to many!).

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We picked the perfect day to go! Schools had just started up for the 2013 year, leaving the parks more empty for us homeschoolers to enjoy! Yay! 🙂 We also managed to sneak in before the school groups started doing excursions. One of the workers commented on how lucky we were, with waits for rides normally being at least an hour, whereas our kids could usually just run up and hop on any ride straight away. And the picnic sheds and grassy eating areas were pretty much empty. Most of the kids in the group didn’t know each other, so it was a bit awkward in some ways and the little clusters who already knew each other tended to stick together a bit, but I’m sure that friendships will be forged through more regular meetups. Here are some photos from our fun day!

The Funnel Web ride
The Funnel Web ride
Funnel web (showing the slide)
Funnel web (showing the slide)
3 brave girls, spinning out of control as they enter the vortex of the funnel web's trap!
3 brave girls, spinning out of control as they enter the vortex of the funnel web’s trap!
Inside the Funnel Web
Inside the Funnel Web
Jumping off "The Rock"
Jumping off “The Rock”
Weeeeee!
Weeeeee!
One of the things Molly was most excited about was the wave pool!
One of the things Molly was most excited about was the wave pool!
It was such a thrill for her to play in the waves, without needing to worry about sharks! She got a face full of water plenty of times, but didn't care one bit!
It was such a thrill for her to play in the waves, without needing to worry about sharks! She got a face full of water plenty of times, but didn’t care one bit!
Once she got out past the breaking waves and into the deeper water, it was eerily still. There is a 15 minute break between the wave sessions, while everyone just swims around in the water, waiting, waiting, waiting....
Once she got out past the breaking waves and into the deeper water, it was eerily still. There is a 15 minute break between the wave sessions, while everyone just swims around in the water, waiting, waiting, waiting….
Once the waves begin to roll, the intensity builds quite quickly and before you know it they're breaking relentlessly for then next 5 minutes or so! I actually found it quite scary to watch her in the water. The waves were quite huge!!
Once the waves begin to roll, the intensity builds quite quickly and before you know it they’re breaking relentlessly for then next 5 minutes or so! I actually found it quite scary to watch her in the water. The waves were quite huge!!
Declan and his mate Tim chillaxing on the "Rapid" River Ride
Declan and his mate Tim chillaxing on the “Rapid” River Ride
And then finding ways to make it a bit more exciting. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? :)
And then finding ways to make it a bit more exciting. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? 🙂
Molly rekindling a friendship with her friend, Kate
Molly rekindling a friendship with her friend, Kate
Such a beautiful setting for a theme park.
Such a beautiful setting for a theme park.
I had to borrow this image from the Jamberoo website, because I didn't manage to get a photo of the kids on the bobsled. It was, without doubt, the favourite of all the rides!
I had to borrow this image from the Jamberoo website, because I didn’t manage to get a photo of the kids on the bobsled. It was, without doubt, the favourite of all the rides! A week after we were there, someone got bitten by a snake when he got to the bottom!! Soooooo glad that didn’t happen the day we were there!

All in all it was a fantastic day! We didn’t know many people there, because they’d travelled from quite a vast area, but it was great to know that just about everyone else there were living school free, just like us!

Holiday Happenings

Our life is lived without regard to what day or time it is, and without regard to whether it is a “school day” or not. We just follow our bliss. The main structure or flow comes from outside activities we choose to participate in, which happen on regular days at particular times during “school terms”.

During the last school holidays, when our regular activities ceased, both my younger children were able to participate in some fun holiday activities put on by community organisations.

Declan (12) is really lucky because our local council run a youth organisation called The Loft and if you join as a member (for a measly $30 a year) you can do lots of activities and workshops throughout the year for free. These holidays, he was able to do a “segway” tour, go-karts and Tree Tops (an adventure place with flying foxes, high ropes, suspension bridges etc). It was so lovely to see him meeting up with home ed friends and joining in the activities with other teens. My son is so blessed to have a big bunch of home ed teens to hang out with.

The first question thrown at me at the end of the Segway Tour was, "Mum, can we buy one! They're only $10,000!" :)
The first question thrown at me at the end of the Segway Tour was, “Mum, can we buy one! They’re only $10,000!” 🙂
Getting helmets on before the go karting session. I’d say they all look somewhat terrified, wouldn’t you?
Read, Set, Go! (Actually, it was quite a slow start, with confidence and speed increasing with every lap!)

I didn’t get any photos of the Tree Tops adventure, because I was out of state at a dear friend’s baby’s funeral, but Mr 12 tells me that out of the three activities it was his favourite! Perhaps I should start calling him Tarzan?

Miss 9’s holiday activities this time were mostly playing with friends. Talk about mother guilt! You know that feeling you get when one of your children seems to be getting all the privileges, and the one who seems to be missing out is feeling it strongly? Yeah, that. I was feeling time poor and very stretched emotionally during these holidays, with a friend in crisis and lots of effort going towards trying to provide support for her, so my capacity to create exciting opportunities for my youngest child, to match what The Loft was offering my second youngest, was not really what it needed to be. She did end up being able to participate in an impromptu sock puppet making workshop at the library with some friends though, which she thoroughly enjoyed! And I learned to live with the reality that I can’t be all things to all people, and I will sometimes disappoint both my children and my friends. And that’s okay.

From this…..
To this!
Awww…… A “disabled dog” puppet (one of the ears fell off after about 20 minutes!)

One of the other main delights of our holiday fun was going to see Tap Dogs! What an incredible experience that was! After selling our ute to pay bills, it was nice to spend a portion of the money on something FUN! It was an extra special thrill, knowing that this gutsy male tap dancing sensation that has taken the world by storm was birthed in the very town where we saw the show.

The “holiday times” really are a lovely change of pace for us, with “school terms” being filled with more regular, weekly activities. We enjoy the opportunity to try something new. And to socialise more with some of our friends whose children are in school.

Shark and Ray Centre

We recently had the awesome privilege of visiting a Shark and Ray Centre with a large number of home educating families. It was amazing to see the initial hesitation in the children as they first put their fingers in the water, and then their toes, and finally their whole bodies. The longer we were there, the more their confidence grew, and soon they were literally swimming around with the sharks and rays. It was such an incredible, sensory, intriguing experience for us all, and definitely one that we want to repeat!

At first the idea of being so close to sharks (even babies) was quite intimidating, and the children were hesitant to put even their fingers in the water.
At first the idea of being so close to sharks (even babies) was quite intimidating, and the children were hesitant to put even their fingers in the water.
Once their confidence increased, the toes went cautiously in…..
As their confidence increased, the toes went cautiously in…..
Gradually they immersed themselves into the pool. It felt weird at first, knowing that there really were sharks in the water!
Gradually they immersed themselves into the pool. It felt weird at first, knowing that there really were sharks in the water!
Safety in numbers!
Safety in numbers!
Hey, this is actually kinda fun! Yet still a wee bit creepy....
Hey, this is actually kinda fun! Yet still a wee bit creepy….
Hmmmm these sharks are getting friendly!
Hmmmm these sharks are getting friendly!
Maybe a little TOO friendly? :)
Maybe a little TOO friendly? 🙂
Maybe some (non human) food might be a good idea? And food on a stick is a very helpful way of keeping fingers out of their mouths! Especially for those who had decided they wanted to keep bodies out of the water at this stage!
Maybe some (non human) food might be a good idea? And food on a stick is a very helpful way of keeping fingers out of their mouths! Especially for those who had decided they wanted to keep bodies out of the water at this stage!
Hey, let me have some! Manta Rays get hungry too, ya know? Don't let the sharks have all the fun!
Hey, let me have some! Manta Rays get hungry too, ya know? Don’t let the sharks have all the fun!
It’s hard to see in the photo, but this is actually a manta ray that is about 3 times bigger than it looks here, coming up for a cuddle!
It’s hard to see in the photo, but this is actually a manta ray that is about 3 times bigger than it looks here, coming up for a cuddle!
I think this warrants a closer look....
I think this warrants a closer look….
A MUCH closer look!
A MUCH closer look!
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Now this one’s more my size!
Coooool!
Coooool!
Ummmmm these are definitely de-barbed aren’t they?
Ummmmm these are definitely de-barbed aren’t they?
Trapped!
Trapped!
Maybe not!
Maybe not!
That looks like fun!
That looks like fun!
It IS fun!
It IS fun!
Up close and personal!
Up close and personal!
comingthrough
Coming throoooough!
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Wanna play?
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Fine then, I’ll just play with the goggles! 🙂
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That was fun! Let’s come back again sometime!

Purple Pear Organic Farm Tour

Last year (catching up on blogging!) we had the opportunity to do a tour with a bunch of home ed families to an awesome place called Purple Pear Organic  Farm. It’s an amazing place that provides food to about 40 families every week, as well as feeding themselves of course. The provide work for WOOFers, and also run permaculture courses. The vibe was so amazingly friendly and informative, and I was amazed at the attentiveness of the kids. They soaked it up, mud puddles and all. 🙂

It was especially exciting for Molly, who dreams of living on a farm one day!
It was especially exciting for Molly, who dreams of living on a farm one day!
The owner of the farm doing "the talk" and pointing out their motto.
The owner of the farm doing “the talk” and pointing out their motto.
He provided such helpful information and was able to answer everyone's queries, and his passion for what he does was obvious. He also seemed to accept that the children would sometimes listen... and sometimes not. And that was ok.
He provided such helpful information and was able to answer everyone’s queries, and his passion for what he does was obvious. He also seemed to accept that the children would sometimes listen… and sometimes not. And that was ok.
Sometimes we all just wanted to explore the beautiful environment
Sometimes we all just wanted to explore the beautiful environment
The kids enjoyed learning about the farm animals the most
The kids enjoyed learning about the farm animals the most
Especially ones as cute and cuddly as this!!! I think he had a VERY full tummy once the kids had finished with him. It was fascinating to see the way they used the guinea pigs on the farm. They had constructed cages/runs that were the width of the pathways in the areas where there were straight garden beds. They would move the cage along, so that the guinea pigs would keep the grass short. They obviously still had room left over for the consumption of flowers!
Especially ones as cute and cuddly as this!!! I think he had a VERY full tummy once the kids had finished with him. It was fascinating to see the way they used the guinea pigs on the farm. They had constructed cages/runs that were the width of the pathways in the areas where there were straight garden beds. They would move the cage along, so that the guinea pigs would keep the grass short. They obviously still had room left over for the consumption of flowers!
I don't think the dog was quite so interested in eating the flowers!
I don’t think the dog was quite so interested in eating the flowers!
.... but Declan certainly was!
…. but Declan certainly was!
YUMMO!
YUMMO!
One of the main features of the Purple Pear farm is the use of chook domes in the mandala garden. I imagine they would only be suitable for a temperate climate, though!
One of the main features of the Purple Pear farm is the use of chook domes in the mandala garden. I imagine they would only be suitable for a temperate climate, though!
Here is one of the circle gardens in the mandala system. It's been harvested, and is about to have a chook dome placed over it, so the chooks can eat up whatever is left plus any bugs & other insects that might cause a problem for the next crop (and turn it all into lovely eggs and fertiliser of course)
Here is one of the circle gardens in the mandala system. It’s been harvested, and is about to have a chook dome placed over it, so the chooks can eat up whatever is left plus any bugs & other insects that might cause a problem for the next crop (and turn it all into lovely eggs and fertiliser of course)
This chook dome (they have many) is being used to turn a patch of grass into a brand new veggie bed. It's such an awesome interaction of the elements, and a system that seems to work brilliantly. I love how the chooks in particular are such an essential part of the system, and seem to bring it all together somehow. They seem to have an intrinsic role in many of the elements of the farm.
This chook dome (they have many) is being used to turn a patch of grass into a brand new veggie bed. It’s such an awesome interaction of the elements, and a system that seems to work brilliantly. I love how the chooks in particular are such an essential part of the system, and seem to bring it all together somehow. They seem to have an intrinsic role in many of the elements of the farm.
I feel so incredibly blessed that we get to go to such interesting places with such great friends - both kids AND parents. Just another example of that "non-socialising" that home ed families are accused of. :)
I feel so incredibly blessed that we get to go to such interesting places with such great friends – both kids AND parents. Just another example of that “non-socialising” that home ed families are accused of. 🙂

Timbertown

I have some blogging to catch up on!!

Last year we went on a trip with some other home ed families to Timbertown, a few hours north of where we live. We had heaps of fun exploring an historical village with all the trimmings.

It was fun walking around the streets of the village and imagining ourselves living in a time gone by. Until someone’s mobile phone would jerk us back to the present moment!
It was fun walking around the streets of the village and imagining ourselves living in a time gone by. Until someone’s mobile phone would jerk us back to the present moment!
Molly really enjoyed looking through all the old houses
Molly really enjoyed looking through all the old houses

One of the things that really stood out to me was how many of the people who worked there are incredibly passionate about what they do. It was a great reminder of how the children’s interests, now matter how seemingly abstract, can become a source of income. For instance, when I was walking back to the car to get something, I stopped to chat to the man who was working on the steam train we’d previously ridden on. I ended up standing there for about 20 or 30 minutes while he raved … and raved … and raved about the train, how he cleans it, the work involved, the methods he uses, etc. Even though it’s not something I’m personally interested in, I was enthralled by his level of passion for the train! 🙂

We got to ride on this working steam train
We got to ride on this working steam train

The guy working with the draft horses and carriage was equally passionate about his field of expertise and kept us thoroughly informed and entertained as we did our little trip around the town behind his prized horses. He seemed to have the perfect ability to inform us without talking for too long, which I was relieved about, since we were a captive audience! And…. he had a whip! 🙂  Molly was quite concerned about his use of the whip, being very compassionate towards animals, and he didn’t belittle her or talk down to her about it. He patiently explained his use of the whip, the purpose behind it, and the fact that he wasn’t actually touching the horse with it. Then he went the extra mile, stopping the cart and letting the kids have a turn of the whip!

The horse drawn carriage was a huge hit
The horse drawn carriage was a huge hit
The kids loved the opportunity to pat the horses
The kids loved the opportunity to pat the horses
Declan, Molly and I got our very own turn on the horse drawn carriage, by ourselves.
Declan, Molly and I got our very own turn on the horse drawn carriage, by ourselves.

The kids enjoyed the hands on opportunities!

The working water pump in the front yard of one of the old houses was a HUGE hit!
The working water pump in the front yard of one of the old houses was a HUGE hit!
Declan having a go at whip cracking. He’s done it once before but had forgotten how hard it was!
Declan having a go at whip cracking. He’s done it once before but had forgotten how hard it was!
I’m not sure what Molly liked most – the whip or the goggles!
I’m not sure what Molly liked most – the whip or the goggles!
The after effects of whip cracking! It hurt!
The after effects of whip cracking! It hurt!

All in all it was a really fun day with friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in an historical village, and absorbing some of the enthusiasm of the workers there.

After Timbertown we all went back to our accommodation, and then that evening we were treated to a talk at The Observatory, and got to look through the enormous telescope, with the sky clear enough to allow a viewing of the rings of Saturn. Obviously, I was unable to get a photo of that!

Next time we head up to this beautiful part of the world, we’re really hoping that the Bago Maze is operational!