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Archive for the ‘Geography/Culture/History’ Category

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….

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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!)

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This was our plane from Adelaide to KL….

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

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

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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!

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Check that tree out!!!

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

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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!)

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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!

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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…

 

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Continuing on from our trip with Sandra over to Melbourne for the Melbourne ALL event.  We arrived in Melbourne on Thursday 20th March, and after dropping Sandra we headed to Nana’s house….

We had one day to recover – the Friday, during which we did very little! Kai played Skylanders in the newly refurbished room at Nana’s – he had his own fold out bed, his Wii, a big flat screen TV with DVD player! We called it the ‘boy cave’!

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Nana and I went to Spotlight to buy birthday gifts – two of Kai’s cousins had birthdays the week we visited! And Nana bought Kai a Rainbow Loom. I’ll say I was sceptical it was ever going to get used – she said his cousins were doing lots with their school friends, but Kai’s not usually into crafts…anyway…Rainbow Loom it was! In the afternoon after school, we went to visit said cousins, and Kai saw the loom in action, and wanted to make a bracelet NOW!

He went home and did so – made about 10 of the things, and a necklace for himself! Just goes to show what I know!

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On Saturday, I was up and out early, a friend picked me up to go to the Melbourne ALL symposium! Then we all piled into Karen’s  big van to drive to the Elwood Early Learning Centre. Melbourne had a lot more people than Adelaide, maybe 40 or so, so had a different vibe immediately.

Melbourne also contained a lot of people I already knew from Melbourne park days on previous visits, and also people I knew very well online, but had never met ‘in real life’ – including the lovely Kim from Feather and Nest! We also caught up with Tan, who we had met previously in Sydney!

So that made Melbourne very exciting and there was a great vibe to it from the start….

Sandra spoke on similar topics as in Adelaide, but with a new audience and new questions and experiences, I still learnt a whole lot of new stuff! Also on the first day Karen spoke about her experiences with having had some kids at school, and coming to unschooling later, with older children, and some of her stumbling blocks and mistakes, which was super-awesome, and I hope Karen – you will put your talk on your blog soon!

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While I was immersed in unschooling that day, Kai was at his cousin Lola’s 7th birthday, where they did African drumming and dancing!

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We re-convened on Sunday morning for our last day at ALL Melbourne. I spoke again that day – blabbing on more about our unschooling life with Kai – which contrasts well with Karen’s experiences, I guess, since Kai’s always unschooled and an only child! I took the opportunity to take some photo’s of the audience while I was speaking, and I got to say I have a photo of Sandra in my audience!

Here they are…

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The right hand side of the room! Hardly anyone looking at the camera!!

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Middle of the room – much better smiley faces!

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Far left of the room…not many looking again!

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end, and it was kind of crazy too – as the media were calling for someone to go on Morning TV to talk about unschooling opposite an ‘expert’ in education. Sandra kindly agreed, after being not to subtly railroaded in to it by everyone! Despite being exhausted and having talked for two full days already….

The interview was a follow up to the 15 minute 60 Minutes section on Unschooling aired that night – you can watch that here (i’ll find a link, I promise!). They had the same ‘expert’ opposite Sandra the following morning – you can watch that here.

Some of us made arrangements to meet at a playground the next day, for a last catch up. That was really super awesome, Kai was happy to see his buddy Angel again – who we’d met once before in Sydney…

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And I got to hang out will a load of awesome unschooling Mom’s (and a Dad or two!) for four hours! Until Kai cut his knee open again and we headed home, exhausted!

So. After all that, we had home days (Nana’s home!) on Tuesday and Wednesday! Kai played Skylanders, I did some work that I was offered out of the blue…Brett was away in Canberra working on something lizardy!

On Thursday we went to Old Melbourne Gaol. Kai was keen to visit, and see all the Ned Kelly paraphernalia. We got the train in, and walked up. The Gaol was awesome and creepy!

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The rack where they strapped people to be whipped!!!

And we read all the stories and looked at all the casts of the heads of hanged prisoners! Then we walked to China Town for lunch, and went home on the train – exhausted again, but after having a great day in the big city!!

On the train on the way, Kai completed 4 levels of the Age 12+ Dragon Box app! On the way home, we played some other games and he surprised me by being able to spell some short words – surprising since he doesn’t read much still….but cool!

On Friday we went to Kai’s other cousins 8th Birthday – 8 7-10 year old boys…crazy madness!

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Crazy, testosterone fuelled musical statues!! Shirts optional!

They were having a sleepover, though Kai chose not to sleep over in the end. We took them to see ‘Mr Peabody and Sherman’ which we absolutely LOVED! What an amazingly clever movie! I want to see it again!

Brett came back Friday night, and while Kai had a quieter day Saturday, Brett and I went miles away to collect in some lizard models! Sunday we drove home – a last stop at Keith – where Kai loves the crazy Minecraft cart train thing in the playground!

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It doesn’t look that crazy in the photo, but it goes like the clappers, believe me! I wish I could upload the video!!

So that’s about it. Up until we got home. Which was a week ago today!

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We’re back in Alice! In fact, we’ve been away for more than a week already! We drove via Coober Pedy, as always (because there is no other way!), but finally found a cool place to stay – The Underground Motel. It was pretty awesome – like staying in a cave (well – it was actually staying in a cave, I guess!)….

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Unfortunately I ate too much seafood and got sick that night, but other than that, Coober Pedy was uneventful, although we did learn a bit about opals and hope to do some opal mining on the way home (real life Minecraft, dontcha know!)! Kai did do a bit of ‘mining’ with the geopick on the roadside anyway….

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The next day we drove to Alice….lots of stops on the way to look for bones, buy ice cream, and our usual lunch stop in the middle of nowhere! Erldunda roadhouse is always an interesting place too! For some reason these two are currently behind bars!?

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We arrived in Alice at a reasonable 5pm on Sunday afternoon. This time we are camping, to keep costs down, and it was VERY hot (like 39 C!)…we put up the tent and had sausages for dinner…

Since then, the weather has gone from incredibly hot (while putting out the pitfall traps, of course!), to now quite cold (it’s forecast to be down to 13 C tonight!). There has been much red sand. Much digging. And quite a few lizards, thankfully…as well as an Australian tarantula (a barking spider) and giant desert scorpion!

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Kai has really loved the whole thing this time, more so than last time, and seems to have come into his biological element on this trip! He has been spotlighting every night, and found gecko’s, trap door spiders, and a bunch of other stuff! Last night and tonight he took his new friend Harry spotlighting too!

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That’s a very cute baby sand goanna!

Since its Easter this weekend, there are also lots of kids here, so he’s spent a lot of time in the playground playing with a big group of kids, in the playground (including in the dark!), in the pool, spotlighting, on the hire bikes….

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We’ve also done some cultural stuff – we went on a little drive to Ellery Creek Big Hole – a swimming hole along the Red Centre Way, which was beautiful…

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We returned to the Desert Park for a second look, and had fun there…and yesterday we went to Emily Gap and saw some Indigenous rock paintings of the Caterpiller dreaming…

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And….Kai got his ear pierced on Thursday! He’s been asking for a while, and was very sure, even after I explained it would hurt, might get infected and might scar… It was no big deal really (I have quite a few piercings, and Brett has his ears pierced and once had an eyebrow piercing). We took him to a proper piercer, as guns are BAD! He is rocking his new bling, and really loves it! (you probably can’t even see it in that picture!)

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He’s also been fully into camo clothing…so we got him some camo pants and a t-shirt (definitely developing his own eclectic style at the moment!)…and he bought himself a plastic machine gun, and has been having fun running around in the spinifex in camo with his gun!

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Easter Sunday I just about managed to get the eggs hidden before he woke up! We did the Easter egg hunt around the tent and the car.  He was pretty happy with his haul, ate some of the Lindt chocolate balls, then went to play. Most years he gives the majority of his chocolate away in the end, although this year I was careful to buy good quality chocolate all the way this year, as he won’t touch cheap chocolate eggs (quite rightly!)! We’ll see how it goes – currently his Easter basket is still full.

It’s been interesting coming camping now he is so much older. As soon as he made friends i’ve barely seen him! He’s been off spotlighting at night on his own or with a friend, and we’ve been using the walkie-talkie’s to stay in contact. He and Harry took off for an hour on the hire bikes today! He asked to sleep in a separate part of the tent this time, and next time has asked for his own separate one man tent!!! So independent and amazing, and so confident. He’s such a cool kid!

One more day to go, and we are heading home. We’ve had a great trip!

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After the museum the other day, we’re on kinda a Roman thang….we got a bunch of books from the library, and one of them is called ‘Roman Things to Make and Do’. Now, y’all know we’re not really crafters here, but Kai was excited to do a few things from the book, and mostly this laurel emperors crown….the instructions had the leaves in green paper, but I had so much left over green felt (because we never use up  our craft stuff!) that I decided we’d use that…so here it is. We also made roman coins and a scroll!

 

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I can’t believe another week has gone by already!! I’ve thought, this week, after a series of events, I might post more unschooly theory stuff, but at the moment I like to keep this blog a happy place…recording our fun days and showing what unschooling reality can look like…

So. It’s another update!

Since last Wednesday it’s been a busy week (as usual, it seems!). Kai’s pretty into Pirates still (re-overtaken Ninja’s!)…he designed his own Pirate Flag after we read about the different types of pirate flags for different pirates…

 

I don’t know why it’s showing the wrong way around, and I can’t seem to fix it! But obviously it’s a man being stabbed with a hook! Still not as scary as BlackBeards flag, we decided!

We went to the Op Shops the other day and scored big time!!

 

All that for $12!! Seriously! We got full sets of Junior Scrabble and the Jumanji board game ($5 the lot!), a copy of Age of Empires for the PC ($1), and some other DVD’s and games, and obviously two lovely skirts for me ($1 each!!)…Yay!

We went to our friend Llogan’s 7th birthday party at the ice skating rink. It was awesome!!! They had an hour of snow play first, before skating.

 

Spinning on the ice in this was probably Kai’s favourite thing!

Yesterday we went to the Maritime Museum, down at Port Adelaide. Our first trip, it fits with our current Pirate theme….Kai loved the museum, especially the tall ship, the pieces of eight, and the talking cat ‘Scuttlebutt’!

 

The kids also got to sit inside the cabins they would have had, had they been 10 pound poms on the immigrant ships from England!

 

It was a really good, interactive museum – we joined for the year, and i’m pretty sure we’ll go back soon!

After the museum we climbed the lighthouse…

 

And then went on a dolphin cruise…..

 

We didn’t see any dolphins, unfortunately, but the kids had fun…until Kai fell on deck and smashed his head into a metal pole :/ ….a late night trip to the after hours doctor confirmed all was well (I was worried as we found some blood in his ear a bit later on)…all seems well today, aside from a whopper of a bruise on and around his ear…

Erm…what else?? We’ve played some Junior Scrabble since we got the set…we tried Jumanji but it’s quite complicated and we’ll need to really sit down for a while to figure it out!

Kai asked to do some science experiments with food colouring. So we did the old flower/water transportation one. Kai asked if the length of the stem would make the flower change colour quicker – so we decided to find out and cut 3 flowers with different length stems and we made it a ‘proper’ experiment this time….and Kai was happy to help me fill in a table and colour in a graph …

 

Turns out he was right! The flower with the shorter stem (red colouring) changed colour quicker than the blue and green!

However blue turned out to make the prettiest flower!

 

And finally, very exciting, Kai’s book arrived! (Look away now Nana, if you don’t want to spoil your Christmas present!!)…Kai narrated a story to me, and then drew illustrations, and we made a book with Blurb.

I was a little hesitant, as it’s quite expensive, but we were really happy with the resulting book – it’s a *real* book!! And looks awesome!

 

The front cover….

 

A peek inside (there are other illustrations! haha!)

I’m really pleased with the final result, and so is Kai. If you have a child that loves writing stories and drawing pictures, i’d really recommend it, and Blurb is the only company I found that has an Australia page/Australia postage – all other sites are overseas….

So, that’s it for this week!

 

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We are back home…FINALLY! What a drive!

So, here’s what we did for the last few days in Alice Springs and on the way home!

On the weekend, Kai and I went to the Alice Springs Desert Park. We loved it! I won’t lie, I thought it was quite pricey, but we really enjoyed it, and you could easily spend all day in there if you had lunch and stuff.

For Kai, the highlight was the fact that on the way around, all the native plants had placards that explained how the Aboriginal People used them – for food, medicine, weapons, etc….I will also admit that the one’s that were edible…he had a try of!

 

Signage….

What the seed pods looked like (Kai declared the seeds delicious!)

We also got up close to many of the local native birds, including a kingfisher, which Kai hadn’t seen before…

A  highlight for me was finally finding some Sturt Desert Pea’s. They were in the caravan park, which was a bit disappointing, but I still took a photo!

There was much more scooting around in the desert for lizards, but we did find one super cool guy near our cabin at the caravan park! And he posed for me! He’s a long nosed dragon!

Kai found a dead beetle. So we made a rehydration chamber (I got my ideas here), and it took about 3 days, but eventually it was soft enough to move it’s legs…and now it looks like this…

We have it drying out with the others from the Museum workshop…then I have to decide what we do them after that!

Oh. And while we were away, it was the 9 year anniversary of Brett and I getting together, so we all went out for dinner…Kai had fish and chips….Brett and I had the ‘game’ platter (in keeping with our desert adventures!)

Clockwise from top left – Crocodile, Kangaroo, Camel sausages, and NT Barramundi!

Normally I wouldn’t eat either Crocodile or Barra, because they are farmed, and I don’t generally eat farmed meat or fish (except free range chicken!!)….but it was a special occasion. My favourite was the camel sausages – and even better, they are an introduced species! Brett and I discussed having a fully introduced pest species platter, which I would DEFINITELY eat – goat, rabbit, camel…..

On Monday, Kai and I went to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. Again, I thought it was quite expensive, but we got to listen to a talk about reptiles (yes, we can never get enough reptiles!), Kai got to hold an olive python, and his favourite thing was the underwater viewing of the saltwater croc…

And….we finally got to see a thorny devil! (well, we saw one at the desert park, but it was behind glass in a tank….this was better!)

Like the Sturt desert pea, I was disappointed not to see one in the wild…but happy to see one just the same!

That afternoon we pulled in the pitfall traps and finished up, and then drove home over two days. I won’t regale you with the details, but we ran out of petrol on the way home. In the middle of NOWHERE, and sat by the road for 3 hours waiting for someone to bring petrol! Fun times!!

So. We are home now, and happy to be back. The red centre was an awesome adventure, but coming home is always lovely, and I slept better last night than I have the whole time we’ve been away!! Now i’m just trying to figure out what we have on for the next two weeks!!

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So, we’ve been in Alice for a few days now. We’ve done a lot of digging in pitfall traps, and worked pretty hard, but we’ve done a bit of sightseeing and caught up with a friend too – so it’s not all red dust and work!

Unfortunately we haven’t caught many lizards. We think it may have been too cold and windy (seriously – it was only 22 C for two days – that is COLD here!) – but getting warmer again tomorrow, so fingers crossed it picks up.

We did catch a very cool whip snake….here it is demonstrating how a drift fence works for reptile trapping….

 

Kai has been researching ants. He’s been catching ants of all kinds and keeping them overnight (and then putting them back where he found them). He caught a particularly cool and interesting one, that seems to mimic a wasp – it had a black and yellow abdomen – a type of mimicry called Batesian mimicry – where a harmless species mimics a dangerous or poisonous one to protect it from predators. The warning colouration of dangerous animals is called aposematic colouration…..(come on, I gotta use my sciences degree’s somewhere! Someone might be interested!).  We still haven’t found out the species, but here it is….

 

We’ve also caught a Wongai Ninguai – a little carnivorous marsupial which is restricted to the arid zone, and today we caught a little button quail….now we just need to catch some lizards!

Aside from work, Kai’s been swimming at least once a day since we got here….most often twice…

 

The amount of activity he’s been doing every day, I can’t believe he’s not totally knackered! Although he did go to sleep around an hour earlier than normal last night!

Yesterday Kai and I also went to the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, mostly to go to the Museum of Central Australia….it had a great megafauna display and also meteorites….Kai particularly liked this Dromornis….

Apparently he hunts them in his iPod hunting game!?

We also visited the Aviation Museum, which was pretty cool, and free! Kai liked the old planes…

 

But REALLY liked the old communications section…

 

Then we went to the Araluen Arts Centre….no pics allowed, but we saw some incredible Indigenous art, including paintings, sculptures and textiles….

Then we had a play in the playground!

Today we headed out to the Eweninga Rock Carvings, petroglyphs at an ancient Aboriginal site, that has special significance for males. The site may be up to 40000 years old….WOW!!

 

Today we also had to move caravan parks, as our other one was booked out for the weekend, so we are now at a more child-friendly park, with a bouncy pillow and a bigger pool! Whoo!

So…that’s the trip so far….much red dust still to come!

 

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