A quick post. I recently did the 100happydays hastag challenge, and it was fun – I kinda miss it…Someone just alerted me to the #100homeeddays, but it’s all too schooly…workbooks and writing and what-not. So I thought about #100unschooldays…I can’t see that anyone has done it yet (and if they have, I apologise – but I searched FB and Twitter!)…I’m starting tomorrow – join me!

Our 4th Learn Nothing Day was 3 days ago. Goodness me – time flies!  I took photos, and recorded it, but only just got back to internet, so here I am!   As usual, our day of trying to learn nothing has been a huge failure. But it started out promisingly….

We have been on holidays in Wales with my cousin Gary, his wife and 4 of his 5 kids. In the middle of nowhere in a cottage. I figured if we didn’t really go outside, and tried to minimize other activities we might not learn tooooo much. We got up late-ish…the kids watched a movie. A new movie for Kai – eek! Called Dinosaur Hunters….double eek… I didn’t watch it, so I can surmise maybe he learnt nothing new (but I doubt that!). After the movie, Kai played some games on his iPod…hmmm, nothing to see here…

Then it went from bad to worse….some of the kids were playing 4 Kings in the lounge…


And Kai decided to show Poppy how to play 5 Crowns outside….


Aggghhh! Damn those learning kids!

Then me, Kai and Poppy played Uno…



And Kai and Berry played some soccer in the back garden…


By now I figure it’s a lost cause….but we add insult to injury by going out. We went to Pwllheli (which is pronounced pith-elli – go figure – crazy Welsh!)..On the way, Gary was playing some music, and Kai learnt some dance movies from his cousins in the car…and has memorized the words to #thatpower by Wil I Am…

We walked all around the shops. Went to the fun fair…


Went to the fancy sweet shop (no pics, I was in a different shop!)

Then we went to have a BBQ at the beach…At the beach there was swimming. Kai’s freestyle improved dramatically…


We found a shark egg (which is next to my finger as a size guide so we could later ID it….it was a catshark (dogfish) phew – thank goodness we couldn’t google on Learn Nothing Day!)


We BBQ’d on weird disposable BBQ’s and the kids made plates from rocks – and Kai used a jagged shell to cut his bread!



They went climbing……really, terrifyingly, high!


More swimming, rock and shell collecting, and a drive home with more music and dancing. Kai looked through a bit of his new gaming magazine when we got home, and now he’s going to bed…

Yeah. So. Epic fail….see y’all next year!!

I don’t know where the time has gone. Or my instalments! We have been here nearly 3 weeks…we’ve been to Birmingham, Somerset and now we’re in Wales! We have done LOADS of stuff! Here’s some of it!

We went to Kinver Rock Houses – last known occupied troglodyte houses in the UK…(and apparently where my mum spent her 21st birthday getting drunk!!).


We went to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens – next to my old school, and saw the National Bonsai Collection – plants so fancy they are under lock and key!


We went to Sarehole Mill – opposite the childhood home of JRR Tolkien, and known to be part of the inspiration for Lord of The Rings…


We went out for dinner with Grandma!


We went to Wren’s Nest – a ‘ classic geological site of exceptional importance’, and found fossils….


Then we went to Somerset to see my Dad and step Mom…

We went to Stonehenge (not in Somerset – in Wiltshire….but we were taking Brett for a day fly fishing to decided to visit Stonehenge too!)


We went to the beach…


We had pub lunches in the sunshine….


Kai found a wheat field…(seriously, notice all this sunshine!? Hard to believe it’s England!)


We went to visit my cousin in Taunton – he has 5 kids, some are in this photo!…


He also has a lot of slow worms in his garden! Brett was overjoyed!


Dad got us free tickets for Splash Waterworld (yes, hot enough for outside swimming and my bikini!)


And free tickets for Brean Leisure Park…Kai is REALLY into amusement parks at the moment!


We drove back to Birmingham and my Mum….went for an evening walk in Clent, found a badger sett and saw the sunset

We went to the West Midlands Safari Park….zebra, giraffes and deer put their heads in the car! We fed them!! Kai took the photo’s!


It has an amusement park adjacent to it – I went on all the rides with Kai, including this roller coaster…I’m seriously getting too old!


Then we drove to my Mum’s caravan in Wales….weather still good….Kai had fun in what was Grandad Roy’s favourite river while Brett fished…


We went to Lake Vyrnwy yesterday – a man made reservoir that was created by flooding a village in a valley to harness enough water for Liverpool….


And we walked to the Rhiwargor waterfalls at the top of the lake…


Other stuff in our ‘downtime’ has included Kai playing a fair bit of DS Pokemon and Assassins Creed on PC. We’re currently on our 3rd Beast Quest book. He bought a Minecraft book and a How to Train Your Dragon ‘(in)complete Book of Dragons’.

Today is Brett’s last day – he flies home tomorrow, so I think we are having a quiet day with maybe a pub lunch/dinner, some Beast Quest and maybe some time down at the river. Kai and I drive to somewhere else in Wales tomorrow to spend a few days in a cottage with my cousin and his kids….

Phew. And we keep wondering why we are all so tired!!

Oh and a reminder – it’s Learn Nothing Day in only 4 more days!! Get ready!! I think we are destined to fail already – but we’ll give it our best shot – Kai is trying to cram in all new knowledge before the 24th!!






I haven’t been very good at keeping up in England! We’ve been here 16 days and I posted once! Anyway – it’s Day in The Life Day…so I tried hard to keep a track today.

We woke up about 8am at my Dad’s house – in Somerset England. We’ve been there 6 days, weather has been amazing! Kai watched some Pokemon, then played DS Pokemon, and ate some cereal. We packed our bags, and left them around  10.30am to drive back to my Mum’s in Birmingham – about a 2 hour motorway drive…

Kai played DS Pokemon the whole way back…



…backseat complete with Monster Munch!

About half-way we stopped at the Motorway services near Gloucester. It was brand new, and very fancy. All locally sourced food and bread made on site, etc….I got sushi. Brett got a sandwich. Kai got his very first baguette with smoked salmon and cream cheese! (don’t ask about the price!!)


He also got his usual juice, and some fancy chips/crisps…he looked at the packet of chips, and said (quizzically!) ‘Salty Dog?’ – they were called Salty Dog crisps….and he read the packet….I know his reading has improved heaps lately, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised!

We got to Mum’s around 1pm, and I went with her to the doctor around 2.30pm…the boys stayed home, Kai back to to Pokemon DS…

We had dinner and Kai, Brett and I decided to go for a walk at Clent Hills since the weather was so lovely and it doesn’t get dark till around 10pm! We parked at the pub, then hiked up the hill, where we think we found a badger sett, which was pretty cool….


Kai spent a lot of time looking for real evidence – poop and hairs – to no avail, but i’m pretty sure it’s a badger sett, not a fox hole…

We walked back to the pub, and had a drink each. Despite it being such a lovely evening, we had the gardens to ourselves!


Kai went straight to bed when we got home – with a Yorkie (chocolate bar!) and a glass of banana strawberry innocent smoothie…oh, and watching Fanboy & Chum Chum!

That was our day, hope yours was full of sunshine too!


We’re in England! We made it….28 or so hours in transit from Adelaide airport to Birmingham airport….Kuala Lumpar and Amsterdam airports on the way!

So. I hope to keep up what we’ve been doing, so i’ll start as I mean to go on – we’ve only been here two days and i’m just emerging from the fog of jet lag…

Kai photographed some of the journey from Adelaide….



Kai’s first photo was his Hungry Jack’s cheeseburger in Adelaide Airport (he had another Hungry Jack’s in KL, but was too tired to photograph at that point!)



This was our plane from Adelaide to KL….



He was fascinated with all the clogs in Amsterdam Schipol Airport!


By the time we got to Amsterdam, despite sitting down for so long, we were happy to use the moving walkways!


No photo’s of my face – I looked shocking by this time! ha!

But all flights were on time, and uneventful, and our baggage arrived with us – so we were pretty happy with all that! I walked to the shop on Tuesday, and that was about it! We both slept through the first night though, and Kai slept 9pm – 9am! (I was up at 4am….)

Yesterday we went for a walk to Clent Hills….it’s one of our favourite places when we are here….it’s very bushy at the moment, it being summer!


Check that tree out!!!


I think my eye’s are closed behind those glasses! But anyway – check how warm it is! Singlet weather in England!!


Flake Ice-Cream! So – it was nice to get out in the sun, and have a walk….other than shopping again, that was all we did yesterday too…last night we both slept through the night again, although we were both up at 6am watching Man of Steel this morning!

Today we went into Birmingham. We had a quick visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. They have a really awesome exhibit called the Staffordshire Hoard – Medieval artifacts that have been found locally…We saw it two years ago, but they’ve added more stuff…Kai liked the swords (no surprise there, then!)



After the museum, we went to the shops in the city….we finally found Steve Backshall’s book that we’ve been looking for – we love Steve….and hopefully we will love his first fiction book! In the same shop Kai found Minecraft books and chose the Combat one, which we browsed through in a city Starbucks over a cookie!



After all that, we were about done, and got the bus home (Kai likes double decker buses!)…This afternoon we lounged about and watched Iron Man 3…My computer tells me it’s 3.47am in Adelaide…but I think i’m finally starting to feel like i’m on UK time now – although I doubt i’ll be having a late night!

More soon…


This morning we were all up early…maybe by 8am? The whole  family! That doesn’t happen often! Kai immediately skyped his friend Bluin – who we’ve known from Boulder since we lived there. The boys have recently re-connected over Pirate 101, which has been awesome!

Kai and I dropped Brett off at the bus stop, returned some library books, nipped into the Post Office because Kai wanted a stamp collecting book, and made a quick stop at the grocery store.

Most of the rest of the day was spent with Kai and Bluin skyping and playing Pirate 101..


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Terrible photo – sorry!

I did some work that I’ve been procrastinating about, and cleaned the house (the in-laws arrive Saturday! I have a lot of cleaning to do!).

Food-wise – Kai had ice cream for breakfast. Like a true unschooler should! (joke!). Then he had noodles a little later, quorn nuggets,wedges and broccoli for dinner…and I expect to be taking him a plate of baby corn, chick peas and bread in a minute (it’s nearly 10pm…).

I went to the gym, as always on a Tuesday…when I got home, I helped Kai with his new stamp collecting book – he also got a bunch of stamps with it, and we have been saving stamps for a while that we also got to put in it.

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Then we read some Zac Power….and now he’s watching The Avengers before bed!

So –that’s our day…hope you had a wonderful day too…

In response to the apparently overwhelming interest in the video games post (most hits my blog has ever had! Which is great. And scary!), I wondered if it was possible to do something similar with another controversial and oft-discussed aspect of radical unschooling – food.

As with my video games post, I set out to look for a completely biased set of science (biased in that it is the opposite of popular belief) to dispel myths and rumours that abound about food and food related topics.

I sat on the post for a while. But recently there have been a few really good articles on food, and the ‘clean food’ and ‘real food’ hype, like this one , and this one.  They inspired me to come back and finish and publish my post. Here’s what I found…

Controlling their food now won’t set them up for a lifetime of ‘healthy’ eating (healthy eating being in the eye of the beholder, of course). In fact, it’s likely to set them up for a lifetime of food struggles and binge eating.

Lots of parents argue that they only allow their kids certain foods to ‘set them up’ for a lifetime of health….but the studies disagree…

  1. Children’s eating attitudes and behaviour: a study of the modelling and control theories of parental influence (2003) – Summary – more controlling parents had children who ate more in general, of both ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ snacks. Also, children whose parents used food as a manipulator/behaviour moderator (i.e.: do you homework or you won’t get any ice cream) were more unhappy with their body and looks.
  2. Development of eating behaviours among children and adolescents (1998). This study concludes that ‘Imposition of stringent parental controls can lead to preferences for high-fat, energy-dense foods, limit children’s acceptance of a variety of foods, and disrupt children’s regulation of energy intake by altering their responsiveness to internal cues of hunger and satiety.’ So, essentially – controlling their food leads them to later choose high-fat quick energy foods, and limit their acceptance of new foods, and (of course!) leave them with little ability to understand cues from their own bodies.
  3. Young girls emerging dietary restraint and disinhibition are related to parental control in child feeding (2000) – Summary – this study finds that parental control over food and food choices leads to disinhibition with respect to food in 5 year old girls.  So essentially a lack of responsiveness to internal cues as to whether they were hungry or full. It’s not a stretch at all to imagine many of these girls might suffer from eating disorders as adults…

So. I’ve obviously convinced you that controlling your child’s food will mess them up for life, contribute to them over- or under-eating, and not being able to recognise signs from their own body as to whether they are hungry or full.

Sugar isn’t addictive, y’all!

But….if you don’t control their food, all they’ll eat is sugar, right!? Because sugar is addictive!? Well, I’m sure you know what’s coming….

A 2010 review of the literature on sugar addiction in humans comes to the conclusion that there is ‘no support from the human literature for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive or that addiction to sugar plays a role in eating disorders’. Essentially, all the support for the potentially ‘addictive’ like qualities of sugar have been from animal models, and this review finds that these don’t translate to humans.

This is a summary with quotes from the author, which is an easier read than the paper.

On the subject of addiction, there is also little evidence that there is any kind of real ‘food-addiction’ disorder, either, and I can’t find any scientific evidence that any food additives are addictive.

This page is super awesome if you are worried about chemicals in food. Everything is chemicals. Every.Single.Thing. Check the ingredients in a beetroot!


Sugar isn’t the main cause of tooth decay, and it doesn’t make your kid ‘hyper’ (and it might not make them fat, either!)!

Ok, so maybe you are questioning that sugar is addictive (or not!), but it still rots teeth and causes kids to become hyper, doesn’t it?

The answer to the tooth question is yes and no. Sugar doesn’t cause cavities or tooth decay, but, depending on your genetics and the make- up of your saliva and mouth bacteria, it can contribute. But then, so can any food containing carbs…..now for the science…(because….you’re worth it)

Acid produced by mouth bacteria causes cavities, and they are triggered to make acid when you eat carbs… Potato and whole grain bread are thought to be worse than candy and chocolate in this respect. Saltine crackers the worst still – foods that sit on your teeth, more so than chocolate! Here are some popular articles to convince you further, here and here. Please also note that the LiveScience article (the first link) also states ‘no health study has conclusively demonstrated a link between tooth decay and acidic drinks.’ So, stop demonizing pop/soda too!

The make-up of your mouth bacteria is thought to be mostly genetic, and there is evidence that it has changed in humans as we evolved from hunter gatherers to farmers and grain-eaters. People from different nationalities have distinctly different mouth bacteria, too – meaning different nationalities have a higher or lower probability of tooth decay.

Anyway, I digress, because all that was cool stuff and I got carried away! The point is that sugary drinks and chocolate and lollies don’t cause tooth decay in and of themselves. Bacteria do, and they live in your mouth all the time. And if you are going to limit those foods because of a worry about tooth decay, you’ll need to also limit potatoes, crackers, pasta, bread and pretty much every carb. Please don’t do that! Kids need carbs and lots of them! And if you are unlucky enough to have inherited bad mouth bacteria, no matter how much you brush and floss, you’ll probably get cavities.

On to the sugar/kids/hyper myth.  Yes, it’s a myth! (I don’t agree with his final comment in that article, of course – but it links to good science articles examining the (non) link between sugar and hyperactivity). I don’t have anything else to say on that matter. That myth has been well and truly busted for years…let it go already!

Sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, and doesn’t cause kids to be hyper. But does it make kids fat?

I wanted to look into the link between sugar intake and obesity. It’s hard to find articles that don’t have an obvious agenda. People want a scape goat for the obesity crisis, so you’ll find plenty of articles, even peer-reviewed one’s, that blame and demonize sugar.

However, it doesn’t seem to be that clear-cut….this study in Nature for example, finds that consumption of snack foods was ‘not an important independent determinant of weight gain among children and adolescents’. And this study concludes that food and inactivity have been unduly blamed for the obesity rise, when there are many other contributory factors – some of which they list are surprising – rise in air-conditioners in homes, prescription of anti-depressants, and a rise in non-smokers!

Other, smarter unschoolers than me have already compiled pages of research on why we shouldn’t demonize sugar…have a read here, and true stories from other unschoolers can often be more compelling than any research – researchers don’t study unschooled kids – unschooling parents do!

Organic Food isn’t ‘healthier’ for you!

In a recent discussion it was also noted that some parents buy organic produce more out of fear – fear that they’ll be poisoned by pesticides, maybe? Or that conventional food isn’t as healthy? Organic is more expensive than conventional produce, and I know families where the parent is so obsessed by food and eating ‘real food’ (let me just link again to that article, because you might have skipped it the first time!) that the kids have been missing out on other activities because they can’t afford it (all the money going on food).

So, I scoured the peer-reviewed literature for articles comparing the nutritional value of organic vs conventional foods. I do this for the simple reason that some people (us!) can’t afford to buy organic everything, and shouldn’t feel guilt or fear for not being able to do so. I buy free-range meat and free-range organic eggs primarily for animal welfare reasons. I can’t afford organic veggies, though. I eat a lot of veggies!

IF you can afford them, without that additional expense compromising other aspects of your unschooling lifestyle (e.g. you can still afford to do the fun stuff, and eat organic!), then more power to ya. But here I wanted to bust the myth about the nutritional quality.

  1. Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? (2012) This is an extensive review of studies looking at health impacts of organic vs conventional foods. It concludes ‘The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.’
  2. Nutrition related health effects of organic foods: A systematic review (2007) Another review of the literature, slightly older than the first one and with a smaller sample size. Comes to the same conclusion – that there is no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or have ‘nutrition related health-effects’.
  3. This is a popular article, but written by a researcher in nutrition. It makes some very valid points – especially this one ‘Cost can be a major barrier to increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. But it’s better to eat twice as much non-organic pumpkin, carrots, zucchinis and beans than half the amount of organic ones.’

Ok  – so there is no evidence to show health-related benefits to buying organic produce. And from what I read, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of benefit to the environment either, overall (which surprised me….).  For example, this recent study found there was no difference in diversity of insects, including bees and butterflies, between organic and non-organic farms once they controlled for yield. They conclude that observed differences were explained by lower yield in organic fields, but not by different management practices per se.

That’s all I got for now. Go enjoy some food without the guilt and worry everyone!