About us

A family of five in Aotearoa New Zealand, on an international homeschool journey...so what do we do all day?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A letter to Miss K and to myself

Dearest Miss K
Birthday party for our cousin
How are you doing? You've been in Japan for almost two weeks and from the photos you look like you are enjoying yourself, eating amazing food and spending time with special people.

 I miss you lots.

I ask my eight year old self if I would be as brave you are, exploring an unfamiliar country (with family), without my Mum. She looks at me and says 'of course' (like you did when I asked you about whether you really wanted to Japan last year. back then, the enormity of what it meant hadn't really sunk in for either of us).

"Besides," says my eight year old self, "there's all that technology stuff now to keep in touch. When you were me, we only had letters."

She's right - as you often are -  your adventures can be photographically shared online (immediately),  texts and emails instantaneously advise me if I need to call and  we can Skype. That helps close that divide... a little bit.

I know too that photos are happy moments, capturing a smile because that's how we're socially programmed to document our lives. I know that you are home sick sometimes and that the language makes it hard to communicate and that so much difference can be tiring. I understand.

I know you are brave and face each day with a smile and chirpy determination.

Miss K in contemplation...what is she thinking?
But there are things I don't know too, like if this was a good idea (irrespective of how much you wanted to go and how many times people tell me it will be 'good for you' - what do they mean by that?) or whether you'll be put off traveling  forever after.

Yet much of life learning is like that. It's not knowing, and trying and then say oh yes! that was the right thing to do (sometimes immediately, sometimes weeks, months, years down the track); or crap and botheration, that didn't work, this is what we've learnt and this is what we'll do different (sometimes immediately, sometimes weeks, months, years down the track).

It's being brave enough and curious enough to find out.

K enjoying Okosama lunch in Japan

Learning together is awesome, but there is also magic in learning apart - I'm hoping you'll share with me many things you discover on your adventure

... and I'll share this with you...

You are my teacher of courage, joy,and curiosity. I am inspired by you.

Love Mummy

Monday, April 6, 2015

Letting go

It's been eight months since I've last blogged.

Friends in Espana - our last day in Vigo
It's been just over a year since our whanau embarked on an incredible journey (and no, the Spain update still hasn't appeared...sorry!)

I won't recap the past... and I'm not letting go of the blog...

But I'm letting go of a bit of stuff this year to make more space for me, the family and our learning-life (this is the new 'home-schooling/education phrase I am testing out)... or life-learning philosophy.

Stuff I'm letting go of includes:

  • taking on too much stuff (other people's problems, staring at stuff on face book, physical stuff...); 
  • guilt (for not keeping up blogs, finishing projects, doing what I say I will all the time (mainly to myself)); 
  • worrying (about what other people might think about how we do things, judgements for what we do all day, whether I'm enough);
  • unrealistic expectations (this blog should be updated every week and be about our learning-life...it is mainly);
  • control.. (of whatever I can!)

And in some sense, in the spirit of 'letting go', I 'let go' my daughter from being at my side daily  to follow the travel-adventure spirit we value, and return to Japan with her Obaachan (grandma, my mum), her uncle and aunt (my brother and sister-in-law), for three weeks.

It's not been easy. I miss her. Her brothers miss her and her Dad misses her. In her absence we've acquired three dancers who are part of the MOTH's new dance/kapa-haka/aerial theatre extravaganza, so the house is busy and buzzing... but definitely NOT the same without Miss K.

From all accounts she's enjoying herself, creating new memories with her immediate and extended family.

And to further 'honour' the spirit of letting go - I let go control of my blog for our children to share their learning-life. Soon there may be stories of Japan adventures, lego creations, trips to marine centres, metamorphosis...

I let go in anticipation.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What have we been doing all day?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in the last month we've somehow disappeared from the blogstratosphere

...the last weeks of our four month adventure have yet to be posted, and because I'm wanting to print off the blog as a record for the children, retrospective posts on our adventures in Spain will appear soon...

But for today I muse on coming home.
Hello Sunshine - on the beach in Samil, Vigo with our friend Pedro
We left Vigo, feeling much love, full of Spanish cuisine, with great tans and basking in sunshine to return home to what was (and most definitely felt like) the coldest day of the year.


Not recommended.

Jet lag took about two weeks to get over. We eventually all stopped going to bed at 5pm (for the kids) or 8pm (the MOTH and I) and waking up at 4am. (Except for Master T).
Tama's sleep may be disrupted by memories of the adorable Carmen

The MOTH and I both came down with colds, probably exacerbated by the stress of opening and dealing with four months worth of mail, two cars that needed attention and tentatively peering at bank statements that reminded us we will be paying for our adventure long after the tan has faded. The MOTH appeared in a somewhat controversial Listener article about Steiner education that sucked our time and focus for a bit.

Master T- turned two, two days after we got home. We had a wee party (jet lagged) - lovely.

We've started back at work. While I worked during most of the trip, the last three weeks of the adventure coincided with the university's mid-year break and a lull in the work flow. Vigo was an incredible holiday for us, a whirlwind of laughter, sunshine, too much food, late nights, friendship and amazing hospitality. Coming home has been an adjustment.
One of my best friends, her family and mine lunching by the river.
Our house had been 'unpacked' enough for house-sitters to live in (as we only moved in three weeks before our departure). On our return a week or so was spent locating winter woolies and other necessities... Master T was ready for his own bed. Rooms have been swapped, bunk beds built and we're slowly making this space home. After 23 different sleeping locations since March (26 since January), we've been somewhere long enough to start to feel  and find 'home' and  'normal'.

The children have rediscovered toys, enjoyed opening boxes that have arrived from our travels and talking with new friends on Skype.  We notice they're not too keen on going anywhere too far away (over an hour) and want to be at home, in their space; but are keen to reconnect with their NZ friends.

They talk about the things we've done on our adventure sometimes. Sometimes they talk about going back to see people. They identify younger versions of their overseas cousins and extended family - they know them.

We've concluded our hundreds of digital photos need sorting for general consumption.

Miss K turned eight last week. We had a party (not jet lagged) at a tea shop. She lost another tooth.

Things are the same. But things are different. It's nothing tangible, nothing you might immediately notice if you walked into the chaos we call our home and see or touch. Maybe you'd feel it. As a whanau (family) we are bonded in a way we weren't four months before. I feel we laugh more and shout less. We are grateful for where we've been, who we've met and how we've become. We are grateful for our friends, family and life at home.

Would we do it again?


Would we do it the same?



Does it stop here?

Nope... we'll watch as the weeks and years unfold the layers of experience our family have had. I'll continue to share our journeys and discoveries... and there's still that Spanish retrospective to come. So stay tuned (if you want to... especially if you want to know what these two are up to!)

Who knows the places we'll go? (thanks Dr. Seuss).

Monday, June 30, 2014

With strings attached

Being based in one place for an extended length of time means that after the 'must dos' there is time to explore the unusual and out of the way gems a region holds. The last week in Cantabria has been one of finding the magic in small pueblos (towns), particularly in the Basque country. Here's a wee update on our adventure to Tolosa and the more famous city of San Sebastian.

TOPIC is located in a main plaza in Tolosa
Tolosa is probably not somewhere we would have driven off the beaten (tourist) path to, but with children, who loved the idea of visiting a puppet museum, we made a combined a day's outting to San Sebastian with a visit to Tolosa  International Puppet Centre (TOPIC). This is a world class museum with a decent entry price of €3 for adults and €2 for children five and over. (We've found sights in small towns are really reasonable).

This is the puppet who greets you at TOPIC
Going into the Museum (once tickets have been purchased) requires the pressing of a button (and indication of which language you require), before a door slides open and a puppet talks you through the rules of 'co-existing' in their puppet house. This includes being able to touch and play with some puppets if you are 'very, very careful' and other normal things like no eating and turning off your cell phones, although photos are permitted. As the puppet waves you goodbye, a curtain is drawn up and you go into a magical room where there is a short presentation on the world of puppets...then you pass through another mysteriously opened curtained to meet hundreds of the many international puppets the museum houses (and not all are on display). There is also a special exhibition room, where the region of focus changes every few months. We were lucky enough to see floating water puppets from Vietnam. Meet some of the puppet friends we met:

Puppets come in all sizes, like this Mexican one behind us.

Master A tries his hand at puppetry with the MOTH

These photos don't do justice to the beauty of the displays

Floating Vietnamese puppets 
 A short wander through Tolosa reflects some of the aspects of smaller towns, typical of the area.
Colourful apartments and narrow streets
You cover your laundry not for rain, but for stuff those in the apartments above might toss out!

A shop window proudly displaying locally made/themed goods.
After our 'morning session' at TOPIC (morning means opens at 10:30am and closes at 1:30 or 2pm, usually reopening around 4 or 5pm), we headed to San Sebastian for lunch near the famous La Concha (beach area). With overcast weather, and being late in the afternoon (by NZ time, not the Spanish), we mainly wandered the marina, enjoying the ambiance and tossing coins to some young boys who dived for them.

Master A admires La Concha as the clouds roll in.
Two more magical journeys through Eskadi (the Basque Country) followed (posts to come) - tonight we enjoy our last night in Cantabria before heading to Galicia for the last three weeks of our adventure... amazing to think we'll be home in just over twenty days. Let me know if there are any reflections, thoughts, top tips or must dos you might like me to cover off... we have limited internet access over the next few weeks, but will post when I can.

Gracias (thank you) for enjoying this journey with us...

Postscript... two days after visiting TOPIC, on one of our 'down days', the boys produced this:

Master A with his puppet show: Kokako and Snowman - a New Zealand Oddity
Master T and his puppet show: Chicken and Train: A Tragedy