Choosing JOY

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Nine

Today, Brian and I celebrate 9 years of marriage.

[I’ve written this post a little ahead of time, as we will be away on our road-trip down south during our anniversary.]

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2015 In Review // Our Unschooling Journey

2015 is coming to an end so this post is a review of what our unschooling journey looked like in the past 12 months.

Overall, it’s been a challenging year for our family. Unschooling has literally helped hold us together. I cannot imagine how much more difficult doing some of the things we’ve had to do this year would have been if school was an added factor in our lives. Instead, we had the freedom to make choices where the JOY of our family was our only consideration. We grew, we learned and we certainly journeyed. Here is a snapshot of the year that was –
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Life Lately…

When Brian was offered the opportunity to work in Mount Isa, neither of us were sure whether that was a town we wanted to spend even a short time living in. However, we had been asking the universe for a means to allow us the financial freedom to travel around Australia and this seemed like a possibility. We had no idea what was in store.

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Travelling to Europe With Kids // Flying With Kids

This post is part of a series of our preparations for travelling with our 3 kids through Europe. You can find the rest of the posts here.

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We’ve been to Europe twice before. Once in Summertime before we married and once in the winter of 2009/2010 with Hannah when she was 14/15months old. Before that trip when Hannah was a toddler, I researched as much as I could to find ways to entertain her on the flight. I was SO nervous that she would scream the majority of the time and that we would annoy the other passengers. It turns out Hannah is an ideal travelling child, and that hasn’t changed even as she’s grown up. This time she is obviously old enough to comprehend what is happening and what we’re about to experience. Plus she remembers a few of our domestic airline trips and is a road-trip child from way back.

It was very different travelling with only one child to look after and worry about. We even had my parents and brother and sister on that trip, so we had many pairs of hands. This time it’s just Brian and I and our 3 children on a flight that takes 29 hours, so we’re outnumbered and in unfamiliar territory. Since we can be pretty sure that Hannah will be mostly comfortable with this new experience, we are hoping that Blake will follow her example and find it enjoyable.

Blake often struggles with transitions so we are aware of that and we are talking about the trip and different aspects of it every day in order to develop some security around all the new experiences for him. We hope that his overall excitement about the trip will help him move into feeling more comfortable more easily, but we’re also remaining understanding that this could do the opposite and actually create more overwhelm. We’ve also watched quite a few YouTube videos about the flight process and role-played the security checks etc in an effort to make that all as familiar as possible. No matter what, we’ll be right alongside him, to support him with whatever he needs.

Daisy is a typical 21 month old toddler. She wants to explore everything and enjoy her new found freedom and independence. Her personality is not in the least bit shy or withdrawn so we are wondering how that will balance out with the restrictions of flying, staying in unfamiliar accommodation and driving for long distances. Even though I am bringing a few toys and activities for her to play with, I know they won’t hold Daisy’s interest for long. She is a people-person and a true explorer, she rarely plays with toys even at home! I know I’m going to have to use all of my mummy-tricks to help her stay seated for that 20 minute take-off and landing every time! I’m thinking yummy snacks will be the winner here!

So after all that crazy analysing of what may or may not happen, we did prepare for the flight as much as we possibly can.

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Luggage –

Checked-in luggage – Each of the kids have a small wheeled suitcase of their own clothes (it felt easier for me to pack it this way) that will be checked in. Brian and I are sharing a large suitcase with our clothes plus we have another suitcase filled with booster seats for Hannah and Blake for the hire car, a soft booster seat for Daisy to use instead of a highchair, Turkish towels for our beach stay, nappies and wipes and a few other bits and pieces.

On-board luggage – Hannah and Blake each have their own backpack to take on board filled with a change of clothes, an individually chosen toy/play item, two small books, headphones, their camera, colouring/sticker books, their journal and their pillow. I bought Daisy a tiny back pack as well, but it will probably just have one toy and book in there so that I can easily pack it away if she gets annoyed with or bored of it. I have an overnight style bag to take on board which will carry a change of clothes for Daisy and a t-shirt for me just in case of spills, nappies and wipes, headphones for Daisy as I know she will want them since Hannah and Blake have some, a pashmina in case it gets chilly on the plane, medications, water-bottles and snacks, and all the extra toys/books/activities for the flight and airport entertainment. Brian is bringing all the electronics in a backpack that we will use as our day pack when we arrive at our destinations.

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I’ve really tried to pack light – as much as I possibly can for 5 people – because I know if we need anything we can always buy it there. However, we are going in Spring/very early Summer time so the temperatures can be unpredictable. We need jackets and jeans as well as swimmers and shorts. So I’ve tried to cover for almost a week of all-weather situations and pack as light as possible. I have also though carefully about what activities/toys to take. I hope I’ve hit just the right amount to hold each of the different age interests plus packing things that can be versatile enough to use in the car (we’ll be doing a lot of driving) and at our destinations too.

I’m sure we’ll pick up a few more toys along the way as is always the case on holidays, so I didn’t want to start out with too much because of that. The airports that we’ll be in transit in for the longest times – Singapore on the way over and Hong Kong on the way back, for 6 and 8 hours respectively – seem to have a huge variety of activities to entertain the family with so I hope this really will help to endure the long waits with relative ease (I know they seem like long waits and they are, but the price we paid for our flights is worth it!).

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The activities/toys I have packed for the trip include

  • Headphones –  because I doubt the little earphones the plane gives out will fit the children’s ears and I want them to be able to hear their movies/games. Hannah and Blake’s each have pens to customise the sides with their own artwork which adds another activity – bonus!
  • Journal – I really want to try to make time to write/draw in this every day on the trip to help them keep these memories for their lifetime. I will be bringing my journal too of-course, and a special holiday one, so I thought it might be a nice activity for Hannah, Blake and I to do together.
  • Colouring/Sticker books – There is one each for each child and these will be used in the car while we’re driving between countries as well. Daisy is at an age where colouring doesn’t really interest her of-course, but she can just scribble on the paper to her hearts content while she emulates her siblings. She is however, at a great age for beginning to grasp the skill of stickering so we’re hoping this will hold her interest for some time. Hannah is very much into colouring at the moment so I’m pretty sure she’ll have her nose in her book for most of the flight and airport time.
  • Oragami paper – This is for Hannah, Blake and Daddy to work on while Daisy and I nap ;).
  • Small Dollhouse dolls – This was an idea I borrowed from another blog somewhere in travel-blog-land, and I think this will be a hit, promoting imaginative play.
  • Finger puppets – These were rarely played with at home but I could see their value in a small confined space so instead of donating them when we culled most of the toys, I saved them in our holiday box.
  • Deck of cards x2 – I think if your kids are able to play Snap or are even just learning it, cards are a great way to extend that game and also help the kids learn new ones like Go Fish.
  • A magnetic Ludo game travel set – I bought this from a stationary store would you believe? They had them at the counter for $5.
  • Books – A necessity.
  • Plasticine/play-dough
  • Magnadoodles – These were something I was really wanting to find in this compact size as they fit so well in the bag. I bought one for each child from the $2 store, and they had to open and use them as soon as they saw them – even Daisy – so I think these will be a favourite on the plane and in the car.
  • Balloons and a balloon cover – for the airport.
  • Inflatable swords – I saw these at the $2 shop and thought they would be great for the airport to help Blake get energy out. He loves pretending to be a knight or a pirate and I know he will miss his swords that we have to leave at home. I bought 2 so Brian and Blake can continue their duels!


    That sounds like a lot written in a list like that, but it really all fits easily into my bag and theirs, and there is 3 children to amuse after all. I know that Hannah and Blake will enjoy the airplane games and entertainment -and we will have our iPad – but I want to be reaching for these activities first. Of-course, I’m packing some non-perishable snacks along too and hopefully all of this preparation means a smoother flight for all of us. I guess we’ll find out in just a few days!

 

 

 

 

Travelling To Europe With Kids // Preparing and Planning

This is the first post in a series, detailing our preparations for travelling to Europe with our three kids.

In just 3 months time we will be checking and double-checking our luggage and not sleeping with anticipation because on the 29th May we will be boarding a plane bound for Paris! We’ll be travelling through Europe with our 3 kids for 6 weeks and we couldn’t be more excited.

Maybe it’s because I was born in Croatia, but I have always felt a pull to see more of the world and we’ve been to Europe twice now – once as a couple, and another time when Hannah was a toddler. We were bitten by the travelling bug and this has always been something we planned to do more of as a family. Travel was a factor in our decision making process to unschool and something we spend a lot of time saving for and discussing together. And this time it’s been amazing to involve Hannah and Blake in the whole process.

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We booked our tickets last year in October, so we’re excited that the trip finally feels like it’s getting closer and closer. My grandma, uncle and aunty and cousins still live in Croatia so the majority of our 6 week trip will be spent visiting them but we’re also planning to indulge in quite a bit of country-hopping around Europe. Part of the reason for flying into Paris, instead of Croatia itself, is because we can hire a car in Paris and drive to Croatia while seeing a few more countries along the way.

Currently our plan is to stay a few nights in Paris, head to Amsterdam, then the Rhine Valley in Germany, over to Austria and then my grandparents place in Croatia. We’ll be spending a couple of weeks with my grandma and about a week on the Croatian coast so there will be a lot to see and do, but a lot of down time too. On the way back to Paris we plan to see Verona (and hopefully squeeze in Venice though we’ve been there before) and then a few days in the Provence area of France.

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We chose the kids Christmas presents with this overseas trip in mind and Hannah and Blake received a new backpack full of things they will need for the plane and travelling in general. This was a hit, as we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how much travelling we’ll be doing in the plane and car overseas. Both Hannah and Blake have been in planes before but Blake’s last trip was before he was 2 so we’re making sure to discuss the technicalities of it as much as possible to create familiarity. They are so thrilled about it, I think they’ll love the whole experience.

And we do so much car travel and regular road-trips here anyway so I think the journeying in the car will just be something they’re already used to for all 3 of them. We’re realistic about it, we know there will be tough, hard and downright shit moments but they’re only moments and the joy will outweigh it all I’m sure!

I plan to write 2 more posts about our trip in more detail at the end of March and April as we countdown to this big adventure! If you have any specific questions jot them down in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in upcoming posts!

Moving on…

Change.

It’s life only true constant.

When we moved back to this house that we own in late July last year, a lot of people were asking us if this was a permanent move, or at least our final move for a decent amount of time (we’ve moved almost yearly prior to this). I can understand their apprehension, but we couldn’t respond in any other way than to be truthful – we didn’t know…no one ever does!

I’ve learned people like stability, security, a sense of order and definition. I don’t know what it is about Brian and I, but we’re just not routine people! We find our security in being together as a family, where ever and how ever that may be. We don’t seem to find change scary anymore.

Our goal and #1 priority has always been the joy of our family and that truly runs our life. It’s that simple goal, no more and no less. Everything that is a part of our life – jobs, money, houses, cars, furniture, holidays, unschooling etc etc etc – is based on that simple foundation. We ask ourselves, “Will this help us to make this priority of joy for our family a reality?” and if the answer is yes, then we do it.

All Rights ReservedSometimes we’ve had to do difficult things. Hard things. Things that take a lot of sacrifice. Things that are uncomfortable. Things that made us re-think everything we thought we knew because it didn’t fit with our priority. Sometimes we’ve had to make changes that make other people uncomfortable… but our life is not about others.

Our life is about finding our joy.
Living our truth.
Being authentic as individuals and as a family, and making thoughtful and considered decisions.

So we’re making more changes. Another decision that from other points of view could be seen as unwise – and we’ve wondered that too. Originally, this house was going to be the one to set us up, to make us rich in our retirement days. So making the decision to let it go was hard. We met and fell in love on this street. I imagined having this house in our family for many years to come and as sad as it is to let that vision go, the one replacing it makes me even more excited. Ultimately, our answer to the above priority question still rang true; the answer was still yes. So we’re selling our house. We are committed to funding our life on the road – a life of adventure and exploration.

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Maybe we’re gypsies at heart. Maybe we’re idealists and dreamers. Maybe we’ve fallen hard and fast for wanderlust, that spellbinding goddess of travel. Either way, we’re sure about one thing – we know our priorities in life and if changes help us to achieve them then we know we’re onto a good thing.

So bring on the change, bring on the hard work. We’re used to it and we know the freedom we’re gaining will more than make it all worth it.

P.S. If you’d like to send us ‘selling house vibes’ we would gratefully appreciate them 🙂

 

My Self-Love Shelf

Self-love and self-care have been incredibly important to me in the last year. I have a half-finished post in the works that explains my journey in more detail, but today I wanted to talk more about a very physical evidence of the inner work I’m doing. Over on Instagram this week The Little Sage suggested for readers to share their personal altars.  Creating a post about my altar – or my Self-Love Shelf – has been on my to-do blogging list for quite while so I decided to use take that instagram request as a gentle universal nudge to share it now.

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I started with a plain white shelf from the hardware store. And that’s where it stayed for weeks! I somehow felt I had to mentally prepare myself for what this would represent and how I wanted to achieve it. I decided I would let it come naturally and build up different elements as the right pieces found their way to me.

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Because I have little people around and I wanted this shelf to be purely for me to indulge in (Hannah and Blake each have their own shelf), I decided to place it up high where it couldn’t be climbed to. One day I’d love to have a shelf/altar lower down that I can sit and meditate at, but for now this is just fine. It’s placed between our bedroom door and the wadrobe door so I see it everytime I enter or exit the bedroom.

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I started with my crystals. I had only a few when I began, and although I have more than this now, this is the design I like them in at the moment. I have been using my clear quartz point crystal a lot, when doing my oracle card readings or journaling. Clarity is something I’ve been carving lately and indeed most of the time! The oracle cards that are always on my shelf are The Little Sage cards and the Doreen Virtue Daily Guidance from your Angels cards. On top of the cards are a bear-shaped stone Blake found for me and a key, to represent a key I was given as a gift by my guides in a meditation. The delightful candle was a gifted and handmade by a wonderful friend.

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The Alchemical Oils are from Sacred Self and were a self-love gift to myself. There are feathers collected from walks in the park, heart-shaped rocks that Hannah and I found on the beach and a wooden mother and child ornament given to me by a friend. This reminds me to practice gratitude for my role as a mother.

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 The ‘breathe’ and rainbow rock are from my blessingway when I was pregnant with Daisy and the blue pendulum was another little gift to myself. During this journey I have become a lot better at recognising that buying lovely things for myself is a necessity not an indulgence.

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Affirmations by Louise Hay and Danielle LaPorte surround a ‘Work In Progress’ painting I did with the kids one day and Oracle Cards that I wanted to see every day are above them. A beautiful angel from another friend is hanging beside the cards, reminding me I am always safe and protected. The butterflies are from another craft session Hannah, Blake and I enjoyed, representing transformation and change.

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And above all else is a visual depiction of our 5 year vision. Maybe I’ll save that story for another time. I hope this has inspired you to make your own Self-Love Shelf too, you’re worth something beautiful in your home just for you. Clear a shelf on the bookshelf, buy that gorgeous candle you’ve been coveting or try some meditations (The Little Sage have quite a few lovely ones) if you’ve never done them before. Sometimes us mamas neglect our spiritual and sensual side the most. Fall in love with yourself again.

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