Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tumbleweed is launched


I have launched my new, passion fueled adventure  as a storyteller!
That is performing stories, songs, jokes, wearing crazy dress ups, face paint, (note to self get make-up removal stuff…) and showing  a group  of children different instruments.

Tumbleweed Storytelling had it’s first show at the weekend and what fun!

I loved having an audience after weeks of rehearsing in the lounge to an       increasingly eye-rolling family… Charlie performed with me for this first time.
It was a story about a little boy going busking, so that was just art imitating life as you may have read a few posts back.

It was so cool to see what the young audience thought was funny and I have come back inspired to write more songs and develop my other ideas off the drawing board.

The last few weeks have been a powerhouse of  (and I am certain it is  Divine)  inspiration.  I have been up late in the night and waking at 5am just brimming with ideas for stories.  I have three children’s picture  books drafted out and 3 ideas for new storytelling routines.  I have pamphlets printed and friends primed and I am off today to deliver them to schools and early childhood centres in our area.

I just know this is a perfect thing for me to be doing at the moment.  You can tell by the ease with which it has flowed. I intend to generate more income, so I can  live some more dreams I have.  To do this I want only to move forward and do something fun that  I am passionate about.  Plus it is always a good thing to push yourself a bit into new areas, out of your comfort zone.
After seeing these photos I have used, I went and got my hair cut, the grey shocked me.  It reminded me though not to waste another day, to get out there and just DO IT!!  So I am grateful for that.

The very beginning of the show I tell a story about how I became a storyteller.
I start with when I worked in a bank (I was nearly fired as I never balanced!) and how I didn’t like wearing a uniform.
Then how as a teacher I know I loved working with kids, and loved stories and music, but did not enjoy all the paperwork.
Then I got the best job ever as a mummy!  A few years ago all the kids got cloaks – Jedi, Medieval, and Harry Potter and I knew I wanted a job that combined all the above and one I could wear a cloak for!!
It is a good reminder to keep on stepping through life, don’t stay still, keep on developing your skills and of course, doing what you love.
I feel so excited and bouyed up by this new adventure and grateful to all those who have and will support me.

Charlie and I in full swing.
They thought the Kazoo was the funniest!



Audience participation is fantastic fun!




TV in the house!!


Well, the Olympics have started- and in answer to some queries  we had banana pancakes for breakfast, not chip butties!!  It was still an occasion and well enjoyed by us all, even stirring some patriotic pride (me being English by birth).

And now we have a TV in the house, in the lounge and  turned on!

It really does bring the world into the room and so cool for the kids to see sports they haven’t ever seen before. This morning we watched sychronised diving! Wow!    There is alot of discussion around the scoring, the rules, the skill involved and as to why some sports are more fun to watch.

Gee…. I can see the appeal of TV – quiet house, tidy house, kids occupied…mmmmmm.
It is just for 17 days for us though and that will be enough, a mid winter treat and such a change of  pace.

The pageantry of the opening is always a great thing to observe and expose the kids to.  Hannah says she loved how there were 7 billion pieces of paper dropped to represent each of us on the planet!  (I admit I did think what a mess to clean up.)
There was a strong feeling of being a part of a wider world community which is a very positive thing for them to realise and for us all to remember – that we have more in common than we do differences.   Very hopeful to see us all playing together as one.
That is what I enjoy seeing.
We can do it.
We can live in peace!
And have fun at the same time.
The kids are bonded in their TV watching, nice for them to all be enjoying the same pursuit for a time – that hasn’t happened since Hannah stopped playing imaginary games.

And also go humanity,  go the world, go us…… Let’s all strive for a gold in living together in peace.

Memories are made of these


We all seem to love traditions.
The kids fondly remember four years ago when the Olympics were on and we brought the TV in from it’s place in the garage and made a big bed on the lounge floor to watch the opening ceremony.  At midnight Wayne got up and made chip butties!  Hannah was the last to go to sleep at 2.30am.  They still talk about it
So with this years Olympics about to start Wayne has borrowed a TV, the kids are  already talking midnight snacks, although it will be 7am NZ time for us this time – not a busy time in our household!!

I love the memories the kids have stacked up.  With Hannah very firmly out of childhood now I can see her whole growing up in one piece, with great perspective and it looks pretty good.  She says it was fantastic, no complaints so I do have a sense of “whew!”,  I did OK.
It does also make me realise that every minute is precious.  Not to waste a day.  Especially when having  children in my life who grow up so fast… It seems  a good reminder to  live fully anyway, because we are all growing up, getting older.
I love the  idea of magic moments and have been blessed to have a fair few of them in my life already.  And I  aspire to having just magic moments, one after the other, nothing else.  It is all attitude I guess, anything and everything is a magic moment if you see it in the right light.
Having kids around certainly helps as they live so well in the present and gain so much pleasure from life and the little things that happen.

So I guess come Saturday morning we will be having a magical, if extremely early, few  moments  (hours?) of TV viewing on the lounge floor.  I am thinking blueberry pancakes this time, maybe followed by chip butties later, just for old times sake.

A bit about food


I always imagined I would be posting recipes.  But have realised that as I hardly ever follow a recipe (except for cakes) there wouldn’t be much to post.   I am also incredibly lax about measuring (don’t worry the kids are very accurate when they cook and tell me off for just slopping things in).  So I will post a recipe, but without exact amounts ( sorry).

Our diet is healthy vegetarian.  Wayne eats meat when we go out, but is happy to eat vegetarian at home.  I would describe my diet as  mostly wheat free & vegan plus cake!  We eat alot of organic food, but not all.   Mostly the basics – flour (I make bread), oats, millet, raisins, all our beans (our staple), rice, seeds.   I buy fruit and veges locally, so they are fresh and plentiful, but not organic.

Here is a recipe for a sweet yet healthy treat – Bliss Balls

Cover dates in water, only just.  Add vanilla essence and boil, leave to cool.  In a food processor process nuts.  I use walnuts or almonds mostly, you can use any thing or a mixture and use seeds too, what ever is handy.  Add carob powder and you can add coconut too if  you like.  Tip in the soggy date mixture and blend for a minute.  The mixture should be firm enough to be formed into balls and rolled in coconut.

Keep them in the fridge and  hide them behind something no one likes otherwise they get eaten very quickly!
You can use dried apricots, sultanas, prunes  or a mixture for the fruit, although it is good to have some dates in the mix.

I tend to look through a recipe book for ideas, but usually get my inspiration from

what is in the fridge
some lovely ingredient I have bought
asking friends what they are having for tea
thinking creatively for a few minutes

Mostly I have leftovers to play with as I am a chronic over-caterer.   I tend to cook up a storm for a day then reinvent the beany/vege dish into a pie,  nachoes,  as a dip,  over spuds, with rice, in a pasta bake etc….

I really cannot stand to waste food and am great and using up what we have.  Usually at the end of the week I will make individual meals based on leftovers  and personal tastes – one serving of soup to someone, add an egg and chilli sauce to  some rice and vege for Wayne,  some old pasta just needs some cheese for Hannah…that sort of thing.

Ok maybe I will post some more “recipes”….

Funny vegetarian joke –  The girl said she had met me at the Vegetarian society, but I had never met herbivore.

Educational quotes that inspire me


When I first read “Free Range Learning” and we went cold turkey into unschooling I kept a diary and I covered it with  these quotes.  Sometimes if I was having a ‘wobbly’ moment, all I would need to do was to read and absorb one of these, or a  similar quote, take a few deep breathes…(OK and maybe have a bit of chocolate & a hug from one of the kids too) and I would be fine again and know that we were doing exactly the right thing for our kids.
There will be more, but here are some to get started!

Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to health, so  is study without a liking for it spoils the memory and it retains nothing it takes in.  –  Leonardo Da Vinci

To find oneself, think for yourself – Socrates

Children  learn individually, not in bunches.  They learn out of curiosity and interest not to please an adult in power.  They ought to be in control of their own learning, deciding  for themselves what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.    – John Holt

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.
–  Einstein

When you make the finding yourself, you never forget it – Carl Sagan

The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives – John Holt

Much learning does not teach intelligence. – Heraclitus

A child has no stronger desire than to make sense of the world, to move freely in it and to do the things they see bigger people doing.     
I don’t know where this is from, but it really says it all.
Just as a toddler loves to  empty a peg bucket while you hang out the washing, older children still just want to play with the pegs.  The pegs may look different that’s all.   As their world expands and they see other people doing other new things, they just want to make sense of that.  And so they learn….


I received an interesting thing in the mail today.  It was a pamphlet advertising after school tutoring.   It’s message was   –

“We know that your child is a genius, we just help them prove it.”   !!!!!

This is amazing and really shows what we don’t do as unschoolers!

I don’t make our children prove that they know something.
Knowledge changes as we grow, I certainly do not remember all the things I crammed for my exams at university.
If I wanted to remind myself of something I studied years ago I would use the skills I have to look it up somewhere.

Read a book perhaps.

It is like when (and we have all done this!)  you “test” babies and toddlers.  You know when they start to talk, or show their understanding about something and then when  a visitor is there you hear yourself saying,  “show  so-and-so how you  say yellow or what colour is this?  What is this??”  If the child knows the answer, then how silly making them tell you, if they don’t know, then they will feel really bad for not performing correctly.

Same with older children.  If they know something and it serves them at the time, then fine, they will use it for as long as they need to.  A lot of things I talk about with the kids I know are transitory.   The kids have an interest in something, questions flow and they are totally present and fascinated.  This does not mean that they will remember everything you have spoken about.  It means that they will each take from the conversation what ever is relevant to them at the time.    I know Ollie, who has an amazing memory, will often recall comments years later from long forgotten conversations.  I love how they take different things from the same information or situations.  (See the art gallery story…)  They all show us constantly how they retain what is relevant to them on their journeys.  Hannah knew the 7 Harry Potter books by heart and would call out a missed adjective (from another room) when I was reading aloud to the boys a few years ago!  It is fascinating to see what they do each remember over time….although scary as to how much I seem to have forgotten…..!

I could so easily have preconceived ideas of what they “should” have remembered and even test them on it.  But that would be crazy as it would be what I think, I want, or what I perceive to be important which of course, for my life, it is.   Just not for them.

I have no fear about how they will fare in the future.  If they are studying at tertiary level, doing something they love, there will be no problem for them in learning how to write/ share/regurgitate their knowledge when required to achieve a goal.

Yes we are all geniuses.
I am amazed how I can cook without a recipe book!
I can teach guitar with my eyes closed!  (I don’t)
I remember what star sign (and  most birthdays) family and friends are.
I can write a children’s story in an hour.
I can play a song on my violin that I only know in my head.

When I am on track with my life and doing what feels right, then everything just flows, things come back to me, new insights just flash in to my mind.
I call that divine inspiration and  the only proof I have is that it just feels right.


Here is something else I was reading….

(this is not a link sorry, you will have to copy it…)

The proof is in the pudding

Music, Music Music


“Music….. it gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm to life…”    – Plato

How on earth I have got to nearly 30 posts without really talking about music seems, well hard to believe… Our lives are full of music.  Yes I will admit that sometimes that means me listening to ABBA full tilt while dancing, or Opera blasting out while I tidy up (last time I had a night alone I listened only to Opera and painted our second bathroom, then pasted poems all over the walls in a heightened emotional state brought about by the music…) .

At other times we are in three bands.  Wayne, as a much sought after bass player, is in all three!
I also teach music a couple of afternoons a week which I love.  So the kids have grown up listening to Country Roads and Old School Yard played slowly and sometimes painfully by my students.
Everyone plays something –
Wayne plays guitar, mostly bass (electric and a big double bass) he has taught himself to sing and now plays ukulele.
Please note -(playing the Ukulele is a  bit like reading and like breathing, sort of compulsory in our family, but in a nice way.  As though if you didn’t play you would be missing out on something, a sort of     “If you can’t beat ’em…join ’em mentality.)

Ollie, for the very reasons mentioned above plays the Ukulele now too! (After saying for years  he was the only non-musical one in our family!  (utter twaddle, he is a great player)

Hannah needs only a few minutes lesson on anything and she plays it….guitar, ukulele, Mandolin, recorder, Bodhran,  she has played the banjo on stage after a quick lesson just before, can pick up my fiddle and play it and now she is working away at piano, and beautifully too.

Charlie is a drummer.  He has a natural beat, his musicality runs deep and he has taken to the ukulele quickly and just seems very happy to sing out in front of others.

I play the guitar, violin, recorder and, you guessed it…. all together now…. the uke!!

A couple of years ago I ran a couple of workshops to teach this much maligned instrument and from this was formed our local Ukulele Orchestra now named Ukebox!  We have played at all sorts of community events  for the last two years  and seem to have a pretty full schedule of “Gigs”.  Wayne plays the double bass in the group which really enhances it and holds us all together.  Our singing has come a long way too and we have a few harmonies sprinkled through some songs.  It is a wonderful groups of friends who play, some have come and gone, and we never know exactly who will turn up on the night….  We play ABBA, Queen, Beatles,  ’60s stuff, Country, Johnny Cash, all sorts even some ‘modern songs’.  It is alot of fun!!
We do not have a website you can  click onto sorry, but we are happy to be flown to anywhere in the world for  a performance……:)      (there is usually about 15 of us.)

But try this link to hear us play!

Ukulele Concert in Hospital

Ukebox 2011 playing at the local pub!

Some of us at this years Music marathon…
I know we need to lose the music stands!

Next is Gallimaufry.  Look that up!

It is a great word that really describes us and the music we play.  I had a dream of having a girls folk band that “Folk-ises” (this is not a word, do not look it up!) all sorts of songs….and we are doing it, with the welcome addition of Wayne on double bass and Hannah on Bodhran or Mandolin.  The other two girls have become great friends and come with an assortment of children.  So we have very social music-making sessions.  Not to mention several teapots of peppermint tea and dark chocolate….We spent a year trying to come up with a name and yes, the tea bags were on the list, and Peppermint…..

Jane (#2) has the most beautiful voice and plays guitar like an angel.  She is so modest, but I am certain she had a career as a folk singer that she is not admitting to in her murky past…She is also a talented artist.

Di completely mad.  As a musician I mean, well actually all the time… She LIVES for music, she will even turn down food in place of music.  When we went to the totally groovy Wellington Folk Festival last year,  (Wellington Folk Festival WordPress )     Di came and was transported to  ‘Di Heaven’ instantly, then we didn’t see her!  We had to keep feeding her children as she was sucked into a vortex of music, which, as she often says feeds her soul so who needs food.
(Somehow we always manage to fit in a huge amount of food, along with plenty of music making &  appreciation, dance, story telling and general inspiring and magical moments.)
As I was saying, Di plays everything – she  now owns a saxophone!  She is usually on Mandolin, tin whistle or flute and can sing, play guitar, ukulele, piano and no doubt a number of others that we are yet to discover.

Gallimaufry is beautiful.  I have have the most amazing magic moment memory of last winter when we had an extremely rare 3 days of snow here, on the ground!  Unheard of for the last 30 years  and very cool!  One night we were practising and had the curtain open so I could see the snow falling.   We were playing Si Beg Si  Mor, the most exquisite Celtic tune.  I had tears in my eyes and felt a very strong soaring emotion as I watched the snow drift slowly down while playing this beautiful music – an amazing magic moment…..
I am so grateful to Jane and Di  for appearing in my life and to keep on coming back again and again and sharing in such magical creation!

Gallimaufry in full swing
at the Music Marathon

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe

-Lao Tzu

I would like to  mention Lookout Joe, Wayne’s band.  He plays electric bass (and sings) with three other very talented musicians.  They have performed around town a bit and they do have a website!!

Lookout Joe!

Wayne and the boys hang out in our freezing sleepout every week and create magic (even if it is mostly Neil Young!! – sorry Mike!!)  They call themselves Country Rock  and are extremely easy to listen to!  It is such a treat having talented musicians playing within earshot so regularly. Charlie will often go and just hang out in the middle of the band rehearsal, perched on a big amp, and soak it all up.  Good idea for a drummer/musician in-training me thinks! He often makes all their cups of tea as well!
The kids all come down to our local , extremely family-friendly pub when we play there (along with all the other kids and groupies!) so they are really exposed to a lot of live music.

We have a homeschool kids ukulele group happening now which is very exciting!  We meet once a week, and have 18 children all strumming along.  We are entered in a school ukulele festival in a couple of months and have already finished all the songs for that, so we are playing other new songs now with a view to busking!!  I think this was the main catalyst for Ollie to learn the ukulele.  It has had fantastic spin offs too, the two boys will sit down and play together, just because they love it!

Charlie and Ollie playing…for fun!
Usually it is about 10.30pm when they get the urge though,which isn’t always that fun for the rest of us! However this is the absolute joy of our lifestyle, which is what it is all about.

The cool thing about our kids musical education is how organic it is.  They seemed to have absorbed music, learnt whole songs  in fact from just being awake in the same house while we practice.  Amazing!

I see Ollie outside , whittling a stick and singing a Lookout Joe song.  Charlie singing something I have played for years in guitar lessons, word perfect.  Hannah composing a song that we all play with Mike, from Lookout Joe on guitars, bass and harmonica.   Charlie went through an intense music phase when he would stand in front of the stereo, listening to the same CD over and over, learning the words while miming playing on the bass guitar!  Ollie used to listen to Meatloaf really loud when he was about 7yrs old, while reading this great book we have on the Queen Mother!  He would often do that for a couple of hours at a time over a period of 6 months or so.  Not sure what mental connections that made for him….

As Neitzsche said – “Life without music would be a mistake.”    Aaaaaahhhhhh…………..