Leaps and bounds

At 2 years old, Miss V has already mastered the alphabet song!!
Actually, better make that the "A B C" song...

A, B, A, B, A, B, C.
A, B, A, B, abby, abby, C.
A, B, C.
A, B, C.
A, B, C, B, A, B, C.
A, B, C, B, A, B, C.... Now I no more A B C!


Teachable Moments

We are really getting into this new home learning routine, especially the 'teachable moments'. Today was packed full of them...

This morning Miss F informed me that I had my shirt on backwards. She suggested I slow down tomorrow morning and enjoy the moment. "'Cause clothes are fun if you make them fun, Al." She also threw in a little positive role modelling with, "My dress in on the right way, see? 'Cause I'm a big girl. It's good to be a big girl sometimes, Al. Will you give it a try?"

Then I spent 20 minutes trying to put Beezie the mini foxy's collar on Whip, the dalmatian. Miss V eventually brought me the right lead and gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder. She then pointed out that Whip's lead is red and Beezie's lead is blue. "See, different."

While we were out walking, Miss J reprimanded me for only looking twice, not three times, before crossing the road. Then before we could cross the road she lead us in a round of, "This is the way we look for cars, look for cars, look for cars. This is the way we look for cars, then cross the road together."

This afternoon I went to walk out the front and Miss F said, "Careful, Al."
Then I tripped on the loose step I'd be warning the girls to be careful of all day.
When I tripped I stubbed my toe so I asked J if I could have a band aid from her doctor's kit. She said, "You don't really need one mum. The 'dorphins (aka endorphins) will make it better soon." (I only just resisted the urge to retort, "But I want a BAND AID!")

Finally, while making dinner tonight I discovered I'd forgotten something at the supermarket. When Miss F found out she said, "That's what happens when you don't make a list, Al. So what can you do next time for a better outcome?"

I know we're kind of new to this whole home learning thing, but I still can't help feeling like there's something not quite right with this picture...

School's in!

Yesterday I decided I wanted to do something special with the girls, to celebrate the beginning of our home learning adventure. I thought about a party, I thought about shopping for our learning area together, I thought about going away for a night somewhere, but nothing really seemed appropriate.

Driving home from Nelly's obedience class this morning I spotted a garage sale. We love garage sales, so I stopped and we got out to have a look.
That's when we saw it.
Our school bell.

Miss J said, "It's for us, isn't it mum? Isn't it waiting for us?!"
Miss V started stroking it and declared it a "Kewl bell!"
Miss F gave it a hug and said, "Don't worry, you can come live with us now."
Nelly gave it the ultimate sign of approval - She didn't pee on it.

The owner of the bell told us that she had refused to sell it to five people already this morning, because she was waiting for the right family. She asked the girls if the bell would have a good home with us. They all nodded in earnest and Miss J said, "You can come visit any time you want."

Miss F wrapped the bell in her pink jumper, so it wouldn't be scared, and Miss V made sure I put it on the front seat and buckled the seat belt, so it would be safe.

At home we polished it and chose a tree to hang it from. Miss F picked it a flower, Miss J sang it a song, and Miss V gave it the very first test ring.
It sounds magnificent!

I asked Miss V what she though about our new school bell, she said:
"No mum, it's not a school bell. It's a kewl bell."

I couldn't agree more.


After the recent daycare incident, I vowed not to send the girls back there on the days that NDP was there. As it turns out, NDP is there every day, so I decided it was time to check out a more 'alternative' (similar to Steiner) childcare centre with the girls.

As far as first impressions go, this centre was fabulous. We were greeted by one of the teachers as soon as we walked in. She talked to me about their 'child directed' approach to learning, told me about their programs and showed us around the building. Very impressive.
The girls were drawn to the 'library', which was a cute little corner space with lots of book shelves and posters on the walls. Miss F pointed to a poster titled "My Body", with a picture of a boy in boxer shorts and words with arrows pointing to different body parts. The teacher sat down to read the poster with her and helped her work out the words by identifying which body part the arrow was leading to. Again, very impressive.
When they'd been through all the words Miss F asked, "Is that a boy?". The teacher answered yes and then Miss F asked, "Why doesn't he have a penis?"

I was hoping the teacher would follow my "child's direction" and talk to her about public and private body parts. She could have even just acknowledged that Miss F had a point and moved on. Instead she replied "Excuse me, Miss - We don't talk like that here." Miss F was puzzled and asked, "Why not?". The teacher said, "Because it is rude."
Just as I was about to intervene, Miss F said, "No - Touching is rude. Talking is good."
We left not long after that when the teacher confirmed that they did not cover, or even acknowledge sexuality in any way, shape or form.

After this experience today I am seeing the whole daycare situation in a completely different light.
I am disappointed that a teacher at such an open minded and supposedly 'alternative' centre, has such closed and ignorant views on sexuality education. I am also enormously proud of Miss F and her super kewl line, "Touching is rude. Talking is good."
Seeing the the kewl girls grow into empowered little people, with active minds and BIG voices is exciting and rewarding beyond anything I ever imagined. It is a fantastic feeling, knowing that they are taking on the sexuality education and self protection skills I value so much.
But even though I love that the girls have these skills - they should not need to have them to protect themselves from carers at daycare. Their carers should be teaching them about sexuality and self protection, not the other way around.
I could talk forever about the reasons I place such a high value on sexuality education, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is that I think sexuality is one of the most important areas of the girls' development - But no matter which daycare they go to I will never be able ensure that their carers have or appreciate sexuality education.
And I've realised that this is not good enough for me.
I am no longer prepared to let other people be responsible for my children if they do not have the sexuality knowledge I think is necessary.

as of today, we are going to be home learners!

I've always intended to give the girls the option of homeschooling. Daycare (then kinder) was going to be our way of deciding whether this would suit us or not. Well, we have decided a little earlier than planned! The girls already go to a home learning group once a week and it is here that they really thrive, not daycare. They might be too young for 'schooling', but they love learning and I don't believe daycare is the right place for them to learn any more.

I'm excited about this decision, about what it will mean for the girls and for us as a family. No doubt things will get a little crazy while we work out a new routine, but we like a little crazy and I think we do it pretty well!

Of course, changes in the kewl house will mean changes for the kewl blog, and I'm looking forward to sharing the stories and the kewl home learning moments that we're bound to have. I hope that they don't put you kewl people out there to sleep and that you all want to stick with us, because I really do love sharing our moments!

Finally, I want to thank a few kewl bloggers in particular, who's posts have helped me with this decision...

Paula wrote about choosing to be with her son instead of advancing career. She said “No other time in my life will I have this opportunity....to raise my son as I see fit 24 hours a day. I am tired of leaving him with someone else. There is plenty of time for that later on." Although meant in a slightly different context, these words prompted me to reassess my own priorities and made me realise what a once in a lifetime thing this whole child raising gig is.

PreSchool Mama always has brilliant ideas and activities that are both fun and educational. I'll be using this blog for inspiration!

Montessori Free Fall is a recent discovery and one that has already taught me so much about home learning with toddlers. Upon reading this blog, home learning somehow seemed easy to see as a reality, rather than an ideal.

Megan posted about achieving a work / life balance. In order to home learn with the girls I will need to cut back on my work commitments and say goodbye to some people and places that I love. This post made me again reassess my priorities and also offered me a better perspective - I now see work as a hobby and home life as my job.

Thanks ladies!

Now I'm off to print out some activities for our first ever "preschool time" tomorrow...

Wish me luck!!!


This is a Heads or Tails Tuesday post.

The theme this week is 'Direction', and I'm going to interpret it as the "Where to from here?" kind of direction.
I know this is a question I've often asked myself, especially in times of stress or sadness, and I've sometimes struggled to find an answer.
During those times, these words offer me comfort, strength and direction.

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken

Do not clutch it

Let the wound lie open

Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting.

Let a stray dog lick it

Let a bird lean in the hole and sing

A simple song like a tiny bell

And let it ring

Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.

Let it free and it can be

A path on which to travel.

Michael Leunig


We bought new winter pj's today, and they came with fluffy socks. They are super kewl. We put them on as soon as we got home, just after lunch.
It's amazing how spending a relaxed, rainy, Sunday afternoon inside in your pj's can warp your mind.

I know some people love it. I am not one of those people.

In my 'pj before 6pm' induced haze, I decided it would be fun to test out the new kewl fluffy socks on our polished floors.

WOAH! What a slide! I flew up and down the hall, zoomed around the kitchen and slid between doorways singing - "OOWW! I feel good! Dana nana nana na... " - Really, really loudly.

That's when it happened. My mind was so warped I completely lost my already shaky grip on reality... And I taught the girls how to slide, too.

Yes, I, Alison Notso Kewl, taught three toddlers how to slide along polished floors whilst wearing slippery socks.

And now they won't stop.

And I can't make them, because I taught them.

What have I done?!

Well Sor-ry!

I have a stash.

Of chocolate.

I hide it in the freezer and only ever bring it out after the girls' bedtime so they don't see it and make me share.

As soon as the coast was clear last night I put on a CD (Jethro Tull, Best Of) and raided my stash for the biggest piece of chocolate I could find. I was reclining on the couch, enjoying my antioxidant packed goodness, when I choked on my own saliva.

After a good few minutes of loud, breathless coughing, sweet and intuitive Miss F appeared by my side. She knelt down and put her head on my knees, looking up at me.

When my strangled coughs subsided long enough for her to get a word in, she sat up and said, "Mum.. I can't sleep with all this noise, you know."

Powers of hypnosis

"Darling, why is there paint on the walls, in the carpet and all over your face and hands?"

*Blink blink*
"What was I saying again?.. Oh, never mind.."


The three kewl girls are obsessed with the colour pink. I try not to encourage this particular obsession, but that's not to say I don't use it to my advantage on occasion.

Not long after the pink obsession began, I discovered beetroot the wonder fruit and it's ability to turn food pink. After this discovery I started adding beetroot the wonder juice to everything and the girls became a whole lot less fussy about food. Pink potatoes were a particularly big hit. So much so, they became a regular feature on our dinner table.
Maybe too much of a regular feature.

We went to the girls' god parent's for dinner last night and they made 'regular' mashed potatoes. Miss F was not having it.

Miss F: "What's that?"
God Mother: "Mashed potatoes"
Miss F: "Potatoes? Are you sure?"
GM: "Yes, I'm sure."
Miss F: "What did you do to them?"
GM: "I mashed them.."
Miss F: "Potatoes?"
GM: "Yes."
Miss F: "But they're a funny colour?"
GM: "They're white..."
Miss F: "Oh. Are they sick?"
GM: "No, that's just how potatoes are."
Miss F: "White?"
GM: " Yes."
Miss F: "Oh."
Miss F: "Lying isn't a good choice, you know."
GM: "I'm not lying!"
Miss F: "Ah-huh."

Things are lookin' up

I ran away from home today. The kewl girls spent the day with their god parents and I took my horse to the beach so we could run away together.

This week has been tough. First we had the daycare incident, then M's birthday and then a nasty encounter with an in-law. As the week drew to a close, the bands of grief squeezing my chest were so tight I'd forgotten what real breathing felt like. This morning when god mother M offered to take the girls for the day it was all I could do to nod in agreement.

Having the three kewl girls around, disappearing into my own little world isn't an option. With them taken care of though, I let my thoughts carry me away and my body run on auto pilot. I loaded my horse into the float and drove up to the beach. When we reached the sand, there was no stopping us. We ran really fast for two whole hours, and then we turned around and ran home even faster. It was exactly what I needed.

By the time we slowed down near the end of our journey, I was breathing deeply again. No more tight bands around my chest, no more run away thoughts - I'd returned to the 'now'. I stopped to properly take in my surroundings and realised what a spectacular day it was.

As the remnants of the past week fell away, the negativity and the stress and bitterness left me, too. I thought about all the blessings in my life and for the first time in over a week I felt truly grateful. Not just a token "Gee aren't I lucky...", but a whole body, "WOW! How fucking fantastic is it to be living this life!"

We returned to the car with a spring in our step, even after our 4 hour get away. I felt M with me, and instead of this making me ache for his physical presence like I have this past week, I felt warm and comfortable and secure in his love. I was reminded of when M and I used to spend little moments together gazing up at the sky. This was our 'thing'. It started as a mutual habit and grew into a magical connection between the two of us. Even when life got crazy we would sneak away when we could, heading outside somewhere so we could gaze skywards for a while. When we felt our little escape time coming to an end (usually when a child started screaming), M would always say, "Things are lookin' up, Al".

I was thinking of these moments today as I looked up at the sky. In the middle of the day, with the sun shining brightly and not a cloud to be seen, I saw a park light flicker. I gazed at it for a little longer, daring M to do it again.

He did. The light came on and stayed on until I drove out of the park.

Thanks everyone, for the supportive comments and well wishes this week. Sometimes when the going is tough and seemingly beyond my control, all you can do is go with it and 'ride' it out. Thankfully those times don't last long around here, and I have to say that after today - things are lookin' up.

The moments

This morning Miss J helped Miss V choose her clothes and get dressed.

Miss V is currently wearing pink stripy pants, yellow and green check shoes, a blue and purple flowery top and a red and yellow surf live saver's cap. The pants are too big, the top is too small, and the cap doesn't have it's original string so it is being held in place by pegs. Nine pegs, to be exact.

When Miss J presented her little sister to me this morning, I lavished praise and encouragement upon them both, took a photo, made the dogs come and sit and watch the parade, took another photo, and waited until they were playing happily outside before I collapsed into fits of laughter.

I laughed until I cried. Then the laughter faded and the tears kept coming. I realised that at that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be laughing with M. I wanted to share that moment with him, because our girls are far too amazing to keep them to myself.

Then I turned on the computer and got up this blog. I scrolled through some older posts, re read the comments and smiled. I started this post and as I was writing about Miss V's outfit I began laughing again.

I realised how much I enjoy this blog - how much of a positive impact being able to talk about the kewl girls has on me - and I want to say thank you.

So for allowing me to share the girls and our moments - Thank you.

A Birthday Song

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Daddy,
Happy Birthday to you!

Pip! Ray!
Pip! Ray!
Pip! Ray!

We are celebrating M's birthday today.
We lit a candle. We made cards. We ate cake for breakfast.
Miss V would like to know when Pip and Ray are getting here.

Our dinner table

While the girls were setting the table last night I was distracted trying to get our dinner out of the pan in one piece, so didn't help them like I usually do. When we sat down I noticed one extra setting. I commented on this and F told me, "It's for daddy so he can have dinner with us tonight."

Miss F has an amazing ability to sense when I'm missing her dad, and an even more amazing ability to remind me that he is still here. He's here in spirit, watching and listening and laughing with us - But more importantly, he's here in his girls. And he always will be.

No. Go. Tell.

There was an incident with Miss J at daycare today. An incident which has again highlighted for me just how important self protection and sexuality education is - Not just for children, but for their carers as well.

When I leave the kewl girls in someone else's care, there are lots of things I tell them.
When we get there I tell them about the people who are there to make sure they are safe.
I tell them when I am leaving and when I will be back.
I tell them to have lots of fun, do lots of laughing, and use their minds for thinking, their ears for listening and their eyes for looking.
I also tell them each to respect their body and to listen when it is telling them something.

There are also things I don't tell them.
I don't tell them to be good, I don't tell them to do what they are told and I don't tell them to play nice. In fact, I never say these things to them.

If someone is trying to do something unreasonable, something harmful or sinister to my child, I don't want them to hear my voice telling them to be good, do as they are told and play nice.
I want them to hear my voice telling them to look, listen, use their mind, think about what is happening and listen if their body is telling them NO.

The kewl girls may be toddlers but they are still people, and they are not stupid. If a request is reasonable, most of the time they are willing. If not, well, they have my permission to say NO.

Today, New Daycare Person asked J to go to the toilet. J said she didn't need to.
NDP insisted. So did J.
NDP tried to physically escort J to the toilet and make her remove her underwear.
J went ballistic.

When I arrived to pick the girls up at the usual time (and not more than 10 minutes after this incident) our favourite carer told me what had happened. Apparently, J said "no". Then shouted "No!". Then screamed "NO!" and when NDP invaded her personal space, Miss J got physical. At this point our favourite carer intervened. J would not calm down or talk to her until they were a good distance away from NDP. Then she said, "Help please. I need my mum now."

Try to say NO.
GO to a safe place as soon as you can.
TELL an adult you trust and ask for help.

No. Go. Tell.

This is what she has been taught to do when she is having a NO feeling, and this is exactly what she did.

I am so grateful that she was able to listen to her body, make herself heard and practice self protection. I am grateful that she was in an environment where she could succeed and where there were others looking out for her safety. I am also grateful that she was taken seriously by our favourite carer and that I arrived not long after this happened.

NDP may not be a predator and she may not have intended for her actions to be harsh, forceful and inappropriate. I don't care. I respect my children, I respect their wishes and I take their feelings seriously. When J says NDP makes her feel like there is hot sand in her chest and in her stomach, I believe her.
The kewl girls will not being going to daycare again on the days that NDP is there. Not until she changes her attitude and gets some better education, at least.

Miss J may be a child, but that does not give other people access to, nor control over her body. She is a person and she said NO.

Yes mum

On the way out this morning I stopped in front of the girls, blocked the doorway and refused to move until they said the magic word.
Miss F said, "Pretty please?"
Miss V said, "Chocolate freckles?"
Miss J said, "We're late you know mum. Time to get in the car now."

Real Babyccino

We went to our favourite cafe this morning. It's a great coffee shop - great food, great people, great location and most importantly, great coffee. (This is fortunate, as it is the only cafe in our little town.) To say we go there often would be an understatement.

We are on first name basis with the staff there. In fact, I'd go so far as to call us friends. We were looking forward to seeing our friend Nicole at the counter this morning. We like Nicole. She talks to the girls as though they are old friends and makes them feel very grown up. She also knows our order and respects all of our annoying dietary 'issues', so I don't have to check and double check everything.
This morning though, instead of our lovely, smiling, familiar, old friend Nicole at the counter, we were greeted by a new girl.
I know. Shock horror.

Judging by the spotless new apron (and the fact that she was not there when we went for lunch yesterday...) I'd say it was her first day. She looked nice enough, though obviously she was no Nicole.
We ordered and I triple checked everything ("Gluten free bread? One milkshake but split in two glasses? Babyccion but no marshmallows? Soy milk? Definitely no ice cream?"). Then we sat down and she brought over some water. I noticed she seemed to be having a little trouble negotiating her way around the tables. The reason for this became apparent when she walked away and F exclaimed, rather loudly, "Look! That lady is walking on stilts!"
When I said that they were actually just normal shoes with a very high heel, F said, "No, they are stilts mum! She's walking all funny and I think she's going to fall off them!"

Little Miss F must have said this a little too loudly (or maybe a little too hopefully), because when all the drinks came out her babyccino was nowhere to be seen.
I checked with the new girl (again) and she said it was on it's way. As I was walking back to the table I heard her ask the chef, "What's a babyccion?". I expected her to follow this up with "April fools!". But she didn't. She was serious.

I was still recovering from shock when the new girl stilt walked her way over with Miss F's babyccion. I have to say it did look very impressive with a big frothy top and lots of chocolate sprinkles. Miss F was most pleased with herself and she looked oh so grown up as she skimmed the chocolate off the top. I was just about to join her in my own chocolate froth scooping heaven when she exclaimed, "Look mum! It's a REAL one!"

It was indeed a real one. At the bottom of her babyccion cup was a baby shot of coffee.

Just what every toddler needs.

Pimple face

Miss V was lying with me this morning, gazing lovingly into my eyes, when she pointed at a red spot on my chin and asked, "What's that?!"
I told her it was a pimple.
She pointed again. "There's another one."
Me, "Yes V."
V, "Look! More!"
Me, "Yes, V."
V, "And MORE!"
Me, "OK, V."
V, "They're EVERYWHERE!"
Me, "No need to rub it in, honey."
V, "Not rubbing. Pointing."
Me, "Of course you are. Sorry."
V, "Count?"
Me, "If you have to.."
V, "Onnneee.... Twwwwoooo..... Thrreeee... Twenty more - a hundred!!
Me, "OK darling. Do you mind if I get a second opinion? Miss F?"
F, "She's right, mum."

I maintain that my current complexion issues have NOTHING to do with eating too much chocolate and everything to do with those gotta love 'em hormones.

And just for the record, my children exaggerate.

A lot.

More of Joey's words on Wednesday

It has been almost a month now, since Joey discovered Facilitated Communication and he has graciously given me permission to post this update... He says, "That's just the kinda guy I am. Kind, generous, caring, sharing, unpretentious, modest, humble..."

A quick bit of info, to paint the picture...
The 'flapping' referred to in this post is one of the ways that Joey expresses any kind of heightened emotion. His description of flapping is, "like a mad one handed clap going on in both hands."
And here is a look at the communication board we use. I hold one side with my left hand, Joey holds the other with his right hand, then my right hand supports his left hand to form a point and make the backwards movement away from the board. Joey makes the forward pointing movement and spells out his words on the board, which I read and then speak.
Kewl, huh?

The update...
The very first thing to tell you is that Joey has not been near a horse again! After getting the message (in no uncertain terms) that horse riding was not his thing, Joey's parents took him out of the program.
A week later I asked Joey about his first communication and he reflected, "I said I hate horses and people got it. Like, they got it."
Joey went on to explained that his obsession with the tack room came from his attempt to delay having to get on the horse. He also explained that his flapping was not because he was excited or even happy to be there, but because he was "shit scared" and couldn't wait to get off. He had been communicating this for 12 years but no one had "got it".

The next first...
When Joey's parents heard that he'd been successful in using FC as a method of communication, they were eager to facilitate with him. His mum asked if I would teach her and I couldn't agree fast enough. Joey was a little more apprehensive.

When I arrived at their house he was pretty wound up and flapping all over the place. He could barely even look at us, let alone the FC board. We took the pressure of straight away and said we'd have a chat, if he wanted to, but he did not have to try FC with mum today. This helped a little, and after we moved outside and sat on the grass he calmed down enough to sit beside me. Another 10 minutes and he could handle eye contact. Another 10 and we could pick up the board.

His hand was shaking and his movements were wild and intense. He stopped quite a few times to flap out some steam and I started to worry that this was causing him too much stress. I suggested we leave it for today and come back to it another time. Hit must have hit "NO" about a hundred times!
So we persisted, and after being assured that we would continue to persist until he had said what he wanted to, Joey calmed down enough to continue. I asked a couple of simple questions to try and ease our way into things and we got there eventually.
Here is what was said:

Me, "You have a beautiful garden, Joey. Do you prefer the shrubs, or the trees?"
Joey, "Trees, please."
Me, "Do you enjoy their smooth leaves, or rough bark?"
Joey, "Bark. It feels real."
Me, "Real is a great description. What else do you feel, Joey?"
Joey, "Boring question, Al."
Me, laughing, "OK. Do you have a question?"
Joey, "No."
Me, "Is there something you would like to say?"
Joey, "Yes."

We then had quite a few rounds of Joey making huge, random and uncontrolled movements, getting frustrated and then shoving the board away before he finally managed to say what he wanted to say.

"Hi mum. It's me. Joey."

She cried, I cried, and Joey flapped so much we thought he was going to take off.

Since then, Joey and I have talked about why it was so difficult for him to speak to his mum. He says, "Thoughts are always in my head and they've never got out before. When I think about her (mum) there is so much thought there that it all got stuck and nothing could get out the exit. Like a traffic jam, only freakier."

Joey's mum asked if he still wanted her to learn to facilitate with him and he said, "Yes. But I think we jumped too much in the deep end. Let's not drown next time, OK?"
Mum agreed, and they have now decided to go right back to basics and design their own communication board together. They will also look for a support person who will be able to facilitate with him in the mean time, as currently I am the only person who is able to do this and the time we share is limited. In relation to this Joey says to me, "When you leave with that board, you take all my words with you.... Nothing personal."
After he stopped laughing, he added, "The more I can say, the less traffic will be there to get jammed up. Then I can be traffic controller."
"That'll be sweet, that will."