Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jacaranda's in spring

This the tree that I look out to from my kitchen window.

This tree looks nothing the rest of the year, but come November, she put's her best dress on.

She is a grand old tree.

Every morning the children ride through the carpet of petals, singing "we were the first" to school.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


We did the big drive back down to Ballarat to see friends and to tidy up the house.

On the way we went to Falls Creek for a ski, it was the first time Joe, Flynn and Alice had seen snow, they were so excited, all the way guessing what it might feel like.

A grueling 15 hr trip though.

 Alice and me taking a short cut through the village.

Back in Ballarat, Jim was so excited to see his friend Sven, sometimes I wonder why we moved, it's a bit heartbreaking to see such strong friendships, there was such stability here in Ballarat.

 The cubby the children made inside.

One thing I don't miss is the rainy bleak days of Ballarat. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We picked our first bunch of bananas, it was a family effort, Dan and Flynn chopped the stalk down, Joseph and Jim dragged the bunch up the hill with Alice bring up the rear.

The kids counted over 70 banana's on this bunch. Luckily they ripen in stages:)

My Joe LOVES passionfruit, so it certainly helped with all the changes, when he found a passionfruit vine on the property.

It's covered in passionfruit, they are big, heavy and sweet:) Joey has about 4 a day, and so do the others, so that's 16 passionfruit a day.
I'm glad I'm not paying $1 each for them in the shops.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Boy's Jumpers

I did originally knitted the orange jumper for Jim, but it was too tight. I knitted from the top down, and just increased every second row. I was telling the other half, how cool it was that I could try the jumper on the kids any time and get the perfect fit, just by increasing.
   Well my smugness went when it didn't fit Jim.

This is why you should have the same sex sibling next:)

The idea(pattern) came to me when reading Elizabeth Zimmerman Almanac. She said, "If you increase every second row, you will get a 45degree angle". How come I hadn't figured this on out in my years of knitting?
Maybe I don't have one of those minds:).
So I loved that there was no seams to sew up in the end. So just start with the neck stitches, how ever many goes over their head, and knit a neckband, and just keep increasing till the arms are deep enough, then the body in one piece, then the arms. Keep trying it on(cause that's the fun part).

Oh, the wool is from my lovely sheep, it's soft, spongy and has a touch of lanolin in it still. I love my sheep. Sigh, still trying to figure out how to get the sheep up to Thora. All the farmers say it's too humid up here, but I think if I build them a barn for summer out of the rain, with a fan, I'll be right.......

Monday, August 13, 2012

Muma & daughter beret's

I'm glad that even though Thora is sub-tropical, it still gets cold in winter, not freezing like Ballarat, but cold enough for the jumpers and beanies to come out.  I don't think I have ever not knitted.

Apparently when your four you have to jump when your photo is taken.

I knitted Alice's beret from a 1950's pattern book, and mine came from drops design, they have a amazing range of patterns and they are free:) The pattern is here

The wool is cashmere and superfine merino, and it is so so soft, I had knnitted lot's of hat's and cardigan's for my babies with this wool, it is super snugly.
I used to think, if ever you were having a bad day with the kids, just dress them in this wool and you'll want to smooch them all day long.

Alice took the photo's of me, not bad for a four year old!

Monday, August 6, 2012

First day of school

 The power of thought; when living in Castlemaine, my thoughts often went to the idea of living walking distance to school, I would drive around and around looking at houses, wishing I could find an old farmhouse with an orchard, but I never did.............not there.

The Steiner school is up in the mountains( worthy of it own post), and our track joins the school.

Loving the idea of the whole family walking to school.

Our first pineapple from the farm, it was the most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten, and we planted the top again, did you know they take three years to grow another one??
I can hardly wait.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Once we had arrived I got a phone call from the removalist to say that he could only get in the truck, half of the original furniture.

The thing was, we had already decided to leave Ballarat fully furnished, to help with selling, and were only taking what we had in Guildford. Already regretting the decision to leave before the truck.

So I said "Clothes and beds are all we really need"

Some toy's and a table came too, and three fold up chairs, don't know why all six couldn't come. So we'll be taking in turns to eat/sit. 

The next saga (joy's of moving) was the transport couldn't get up the track to our house.

"Alrighty then" I said, trying to smile. So they unloaded at the bridge and we carted it up the drive.

I was sorta glad that all the furniture hadn't arrived, every cloud has a silver lining.

Went to offer the guy's a cuppa, but alas, nowhere to be found.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One dog, one cat and three chooks

Alice giving big roosty a drink. I know you can buy chooks anywhere but our beloved Roosty has been part of our family for 5years. He has survived various chook attacks(dogs and foxes and eagles). When we were living in Guildford, we would only see him on the weekends, he was struggling, and even once I hugged him and told the kids to say goodbye to him, as I thought it would be his last day. But he hung on, and improved when we moved back to Ballarat.

The chooks travelled in the trailer, we stopped every 2 hours, got them out of their boxes, made an human(child) fence and gave them water and food.
They survived their 15 hour ordeal:)
Scruffy our dog layed at our feet and puss puss took turns sleeping in all the children's laps.

Finally we arrived in Thora.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The long trip

The first stop was to say farewell to Ron, Sarah, Brodie and Luey. Ron had made us a  beautiful Didgeridoo, made from Mallee timber from his country, Ron had engraved six turtles, to represent each of us. Ron is from the Wamba Wamba tribe, he is the best at storytelling.

We miss them already.

It's a 15 hour  trip to Thora, Alice and Jim filling in time.

Can you see the rainbow:)

Dan driving the first leg.

We left at 4am from Corowa, to get some hours under our belt before the children wake. Unfortunately  two b-doubles collided with a ute, near Yass, the fog  was bad, and this part of the Pacific is notorious for accidents. So we waited for four hours, and the kids had breakfast along the freeway edge.
The car behind knew a short cut around so we followed him. The road was closed for most of the day.

The line up. The accident happened only 300meters in front of us. Lordy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

good friends

Jim and his best friend Sven. I think the hardest thing to come to terms with when leaving are friends. I know we can skype, write letters and call. But for my children, they connect through playing, not talking.

The children's friends, my friends, people whom we have shared most of our lives with.

For a while (too long) I couldn't tell my friends or children that we were leaving, I didn't want to see that look of shock on their faces, I felt in some way that I was rejecting our friends, moving on.

Why to people live where they live? is it because of the climate?, community? family? work?
There are a hundred and one reasons to stay in Ballarat.

Good friends had a farewell for us, it's was a beautiful warm Autumn day.

If I'm honest, i would rather leave without goodbyes, it's the flight or fight reflex, I choose flight every time:).  But I've learn't that for the people left behind, goodbyes are necessary.
Teary, hard and confronting though.....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The first step taken

So, my children were happy, loving being home, loving being back out at the school, with their friends. I was happy back in my home, enjoying the quiet,

But Dan, Dan wasn't, the seed was sown back in September, of another life, a life that he/we only had dreamed of, and once you step on that different path, it's hard to step off.

Dan went to work for his father age the age of 15, only 3 years older than my Jim, He did his apprenticeship, as a printer, like his Dad, and took over the family business 'Kings the printer"when his father retired, 16 years later.

When I was engaged to Dan I knew our life would be in Ballarat, He loved his work and it was his family's business. Of all the places I dreamed to live, Ballarat was never one of them. But I was in love, and so it never matters then.

We built a home on family land, whilst dreaming of having children, and made some dear friends, and so life continues, in this place I never though I would ever live, getting on with life.

And I was happy.

For Dan, the pace of print had changed, and he decided to step out and look up, after 33years, all his working life in one place. It's time for Dan to find his own way, without the security of the family business, and so we put our beloved house up for sale and I started to pack for Thora.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Part three

If I keep posting at this random rate, you guys will be "in the loop" by Christmas:)

Well, whilst I was thinking about what to do, do I stay in Castlemaine and commit to buying a property, or do I make a huge move to Thora?

A friend of a friend wanted to know if I was interested in selling my home in Guildford, which means I had to really think hard. It's so hard selling houses this depressed market, was this a sign?. In the end, Dan and I both decided that it's not ideal living in two houses, back and forth, and if we committed to Castlemaine, well this house we were in was more of a weekender, not really big enough for permanent living for a family of six. So we said yes, and it was so easy.... no open days, no big clean up, know real estate carry on, just sold.

So we packed up everything and headed back to Ballarat for the 6 week holidays, to get some perspective. I'll admit, that packing up and setting up houses is exhausting. I wondered how I could do it all again in a month. Just crazy.

And then I enjoyed the rest of my holiday's to see what unfolds.

The time away from Castlemaine, made me see that wasn't our future. I so love the engaging community there, but I could see clearly that the school, wasn't suited to my children, And the scrubby thirsty ground makes me shudder. Joseph was doing so much better, happy, engaged, singing again. I couldn't send him back. Castlemaine was out, I was enjoying being back home, and wanted to stay.

So I enrolled the children back in the Ballarat Steiner school. The children were grinning from ear to ear to be back at their school, I do feel at home there, part of the walls.

I loved seeing everyone again, the new teachers brought such a new 'Steiner' energy with them.

It was so wonderful to see Flynn so happy to be at school, His teacher Stuart is wonderful, more Grandfatherly, with a wonderful knowledge that the children will unfold in their own time. Joseph had Gareth, which is just what he needed, Gareth swung Joseph over his shoulder on the first day, Joseph needed fun in his day, and Gareth is always smiling and telling jokes. Jim had Svantje, a young teacher, she has just come back from teaching five years in Ireland. She was perfect for Jim. Svantje 'got' Jim, saw his gifts. Jim was singing again and playing the recorder everywhere! He was bursting with life. This had always being Jim, but over the last two years it had stopped. Jim was happy enough to go to school, so I thought that maybe he had outgrow this phase and was in the pre teen phase. Jim couldn't express himself at the Castlemaine school, and Svantje was able to bring these qualities out again, I had my boy back.

p.s . there is a part four.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

part two, the journey so far..

Alice's very first day of 4 year old kinder. So grown up and ready.

Well, so much for part two coming tomorrow..., but I've been feeling like a ship without a sail, asking complete strangers 'what should I do'?

Well, Dan spoke to a farmer in the Thora valley who grow organic garlic, and suddenly the light went on for Dan and he could 'see' himself growing food including garlic. He reminded me that before we had children we had wanted to grow organic garlic crops. I had totally forgotten.

I'm like, 'wait a minute, you have four children to support'. Are you serious?

He was.

Then I got a phone call on holidays to say that the board at the school had met, and after a long consideration have decided to let Flynn start school for class one. Unbelievable.

So we left Thora, Dan smiling from ear to ear, and me, feeling totally overwhelmed about it all.

When we got back to Castlemaine, there was a spring fair, and the love that I felt from all my friends was beautiful. we had been there 14 months, and I have made some wonderful friendships.

What to do?

I said to Dan, 'this is what we have being praying for, for Flynn to get in', we have worked so hard and made a life here, the children and I have beautiful friends. I fit in here. They are my people.

The stress of moving children is never ideal, and I was very aware that once is enough. But something shifted in Dan, and he said 'I've being in the family printing business since I was 15, and I'm nearly fifty, and I haven't looked up, I need to step out of Ballarat and see what else there is.

I said okay, let's look at Castlemaine, but for him, it wasn't far enough away from Ballarat and it was all to tempting to keep commuting for the security of income, which he has always had.

So we sat with this for a couple of months.

And I observed everything around me.

Castlemaine had been hard, but by my choices, living in two houses is crazy. Dan commuting everyday, not seeing much of the children wasn't great.

Castlemaine is dry in climate, thirsty place, like an oven in summer, but the winter is glorious, frosty mornings and crystal clear day's. Scrubby trees, not wonderful tall ones.

But the community is amazing, so much happens here, as much as a big city. And you feel apart of it all.

The big one= the school is a disapointment, there, I said it.
I haven't said anything till now because, you know, we moved our whole life so that the kids could go here. and it was nothing special.

I didn't see this when we went there for interviews, everybody always raves about this school,. But really, Jim said after the first week, there's nothing Steiner about this school, and he was right.
It's just a good private school with art and craft subjects.
Joseph had being struggling last year. He was spending most of his time in the library because his teacher Anne couldn't cope with him.
Yes, my invisible Joe.
First she said he was deaf, and to get him tested, of course his ears were fine, Joey said 'she never listen's to me"
Next she said it's auditory processing, then the next month dyslexia
I had started losing my faith in this teacher.
First and foremost a Steiner teacher needs to observe the child with Goethe eye's, meaning purely, without any judgement.
If she had, she would have seen that Joseph is your best teacher, he reflects back to you what he feels. He is all feeling, he doesn't hear what you say, he just knows what your thinking.
But, Anne isn't a Steiner trained teacher, and after 20years of teaching there, has no intention on starting. Even mainstream education would see her as a traditional teacher.

Then one day,Dan and I experienced her coldness to us and our child, it felt like a knife through the heart. She did apologized the next week, but for me, that was an insight to how she treated my child, there was no heart, no understanding, just judgement.

One thing I've learn't in life is that you have to" walk the talk".

This did leave me feeling uneasy.

Joseph was getting worse, calling out at night, not eating breakfast, pale, limp not wanting to got to school. Developed a nervous cough.

We spoke to the child psychologist at the school and she said, Joseph was on his way to rejecting school, and that this was his only chance at having a Steiner school education. Her idea was for Joseph to say five times every morning, 'school is fun, school is fun'

But it isn't I said, he should be thriving.

It never sat well with me, this approach, he was feeling this way for a reason, and to ignore those feelings just isn't right.

What to do?, well the end of school was soon, and I decided to see what happens during the 6 week holidays.

Part three coming this week, promise!

Monday, February 13, 2012

first day of school

This day has been a long time coming. Flynn's first day of school.

Excitement mounting.

Can you pick my barometer child?

Grins from ear to ear.

You know, I haven't been in this space much, it's not that I had nothing to share, but I think when my stress levels rise, I retreat. But I do need to give you an update.

Last year, well the last two years, have been huge for us. We decided to send our children to another Steiner school, in search of a Steiner high school, which meant many sacifices, we had a school week house, and our home in ballarat on the weekends, you can read about it here.and here.

We had been patiently waiting for Flynn to get a spot in his year as it was full. This meant that he missed out on prep. At the time I thought this would be okay, as it is home based in it's routine.
But what I didn't think of is that Flynn needs to come everyday to drop the other kids off and pick up, he would see his friends and ask when it would be his turn.

Even though we did fun stuff like horseriding, bushwalking, campfires, crafting and cooking, he never understood why he was not embraced by the school as his siblings were. Flynn would try his best at writing and say "I'll take this in to the teachers so they can see I can write, then they will let me come to their school"

Heartbreaking, For me, this was not how a Steiner school should behave.

So, I wrote a letter to the college, and the response was the chance was remote, as there were other children before us, even though we already had children at the school.

So.......I happened to be reading a newsletter belonging to our old school, and saw an ad about a farmhouse in a valley on a river in a rainforest, in New South Wales, and so I rang, out of the blue. It turns out that the house is walking distance to a Steiner school, through the rainforest.

So then I rang the school, Chrysalis, Who would have thought that your life can change with just a phone call. The first question I asked was will you take all four children? I had to find a school that was open to us all.

So we went on a road trip, 1500km there, but it was fun, and we needed some fun:)

Thora valley is out of my dreams, I can't believe this place existed, and that I knew nothing about before.

I have always wished to live in a rainforest, on a gravel bottom river. And of late had been wishing that I could find a house close to the school to walk, maybe a farmhouse.

Can you believe it?

Well I had to convince Dan, he saw the road trip as a holiday, and indulged me with the idea of moving there. Well when I got there, as beautiful as it is, I realised how huge this idea was, and that I would have to sell my beautiful home, the one that I built with the thought of handing it on to our children. They would be the fourth generation on this land.

Could I let down my children? Be the one that it stops with, can I live with that?

part two coming tomorrow.....