Following Their Lead

When Emerson was five she set her heart on horseriding lessons. She'd had one pony lead ride at Australia Zoo, followed by a much-anticipated miniature horse party at Mini Mates Minature Horse and Pony Farm. But really, I had no idea whether this would be a short-lived phase or a long-term commitment. For now, at least, it seems to be the latter. How long she rides is up to her.

Her riding teacher pointed out with all honesty the difficulty in learning to ride at her age. The strength and coordination necessary to communicate your directions to a horse, which come easier with age. But she was not deterred. She started with a few casual lessons at the end of last year, signed up for fortnightly lessons the first term of this year and progressed to weekly lesson come second term. Now, during school holidays, while classes are also on break, she misses her time with the horses.

Despite twice falling off her horse - the first time on her sixth birthday, the second time she was winded, bruised and shaken - she has chosen to get back on again. She told me later that if you love something you just have to do it, even if it is difficult.

The sad anxious girl we took out of school is nowhere to be seen when she is on a horse. The confidence that I see growing in her as she learns to ride at her own pace is noticeable in other areas of her life. Whether she will keep riding, compete, or own horses when she is older, none of that matters to me. We just want to support and encourage her in any way we can to do what she is passionate about now. Buying her a riding helmet for her birthday, surprising her with riding boots and books about horses. Then we stand back and follow her lead.   

10 Things About Me

I generally suppose that only family and friends read my blog posts. However, I noticed I have traffic from all over the world, so I thought I would share a few things about me, the Mama behind Musing Mama.

1. My Mother didn't know she was having identical twins until my sister and myself were born. My older brother had been ten-pound-born, and it was assumed she was having another big baby. My Mum fainted at the news. My father says that even 36 years later, he is still getting over the shock. Fiona and I were indistinguishable to many when we were young, but our subtle differences have grown over time. We are the very best of friends, and though we are separated by two states at the moment, we talk to each other nearly every day.

2. When my husband asked permission for my hand in marriage, my father warned him that he would be marrying both twins, as we are inseparable. If not for my twin taking a job at 'Handmade Things', I would never have met Dave, who worked at a camera store in the same complex and knew one of her staff members. Fiona told me about the cute photographer and told me to check him out when I got my lunch. He looked up as I was walking past, probably confused as to why Fiona suddenly had long hair, while I didn't know what to do when he saw me looking at him. I panicked, poked my tongue out and kept walking!

3. I have always been surrounded by books, art and craft. My mother was a dressmaker and decorated wedding cakes. My father and brother both welders with a gift for building things. I was not talented at any of the sports I tried my hand at, but I loved to read, write and draw. I dreamed of becoming a painter. I left school and completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Visual Arts to become an artist and became a jeweller instead.

4. Dave and I were married on the beach in Byron Bay. Early on when we were dating we took a trip in his van to Byron and lived out of the back of it for a few days. We had very little in common. I thought that trip would make or break the relationship - four days, no shower and no hotel, just parking by the beach and rambling around the town and the waves. Byron was where we fell in love, where we were married, and eventually the middle name of our first born. We went back for our tenth wedding anniversary, and though it had lost some of the charm it had ten years before, it was a gift to return with our first two children.

5. Dave and I married when I was 21. We renovated and sold our first house so we could travel the world for 12 months. After six months in England, Wales, Scotland, France, Amsterdam, Italy, Budapest, Croatia and Greece I had to return home to Australia as I was so unwell. I ended up in hospital in Greece, but they could not find the cause of my symptoms. Upon my early return to Australia, specialists discovered an abscess on my ovary that had fused to my fallopian tube and the whole lot was quickly removed.

6. Children hadn't really been in our short-term plans, but after losing an ovary and being advised not to wait, we soon had a new house and a baby boy called Cohen Byron. When he was 3.5 years old we welcomed his sister Emerson Noni, and when she was two we welcomed our last son Oscar Arlo.

7. I fell in love with motherhood and never wanted to send any of my children to childcare. A few years later I began my own business so that I could work from home and express myself creatively. Now I successfully sell my jewellery online and in galleries and do custom work and trade work from my workshop at home.

8. We live on a 688m2 block of land with a black cat, six chickens, and a tank full of Golden Apple water snails. I love to garden, growing veggies, fruit, herbs and flowers. A possum visits our back deck each night to rummage through the kitchen scraps before I put them in the compost bin. Several birds nest in our front tree each year, and we watch the eggs hatch from our front deck. And I dream of more land and more animals.

9. We took our children out of school last year when Cohen was in grade three and Emerson was in Prep and began homeschooling. It had always been in my heart to homeschool, but my husband wasn't on the same page. After three terms of Emerson crying at school every morning, he finally came on board. I couldn't be happier than I am now unschooling our children, living and learning along with them and witnessing them flourish.

10. I still love books, art and craft. Thanks to my children I have rediscovered a love of nature and science. You will often find me pottering around the garden, making things from scratch, knitting, reading, drawing in my nature journal, making my own laundry liquid and recently our own candles. There are posters of insects on the walls and science experiments on the dining table. Our bookshelves are overflowing, as is our nature table. The beds will be made, but the floor will be dirty. If the dishes are clean, the laundry won't be up to date, or vice versa. But our house feels like home, and I don't think I have ever been happier.

Thanks for visiting my little space on the net. Join me for a cup of tea anytime and feel free to ask questions in the comments. xx

All is well

The garden has been calling to me, reminding me that I am needed. The barren beds, the abundant weeds, the ripening tomatoes and the empty pot plants. I surveyed the blooming pink camelia, the wandering passionfruit vine, the fragrant lavender, the spent roses, the ghost of the mulberry tree - bare branches reaching into grey skies, the clumps of strawberry leaves, the new shoots on the lemon tree. I answered the call with a visit to a farm-like produce store yesterday and a flea market today. 

My pants are dirty at the knee, my fingernails retain traces of soil, empty pots are piled up in the shed and empty seed packets adorn the bin. And new life has been brought to my garden. A lilly pilly plant for jam, a Mathew Flinders bottlebrush for the birds, gooseberries, gerbera, strawberries, beetroot, lettuce, broccolini, spinach, carrot, peas, beans, cress, azalea, lavender and pansies. The beds are weeded, the lawn rid of dandelions and prickles. All feels well in the world.

Wax dipped candles

We've been burning through so many candles this Winter. The children's nightlights keep running out of batteries or requiring new bulbs, and out of necessity, I reached for candles. Now they love to fall asleep by candlelight, while I love to burn candles now and then throughout the day. (There's nothing quite like sitting at the table with a cup of tea, a burning candle and my nature journal.) 

I love making things for our home and have tried making candles before with beeswax from a friend's beehive. I learnt the hard way that there is a specific ratio of wick thickness to jar size. Alas, my chosen wicks were not thick enough, so a puddle of wax would quickly extinguish the flame. I still had the premade wicks and wax in the cupboard, so today I tried my hand at wax dipped candles.

Though lumpy and 'rustic' looking these candles burn with success! And smell beautiful. As my wicks were pre-cut, I couldn't dip them two at a time and hang them to dry as one is supposed to. Instead, I lay them on wax proof paper`to cool and I dipped my way through them all in rotation. At least we now have a supply of candles, and I am keen on buying a length of wick and trying again.

Winter Days

Photos from a Winter afternoon at the park

We've been settling back into 'home' after spending four days camping with our homeschool group in the beautiful, but cold, surrounds of Mount Nimmel Lodge. It was my first experience taking the children 'camping' on my own - though we stayed in a four bunk cabin - with hubby only joining us on the last night. There was a shared camp kitchen, fires morning and night, several packets of marsh mellows shared around, and experiments with the survival skills they have been learning this term at our homeschool group. (Pics on Instagram.)

At first, I was so aware of exactly where my children were within the campgrounds, but gradually they formed their own boundaries and I let go so they could run wild and free with the other children. Cohen overcame several difficulties while out bush and I have noticed a real growth in his maturity since. It reminds me of the confidence I have seen growing in Emerson since she began horseriding lessons.

Upon our homewards return, we discovered that the last of our quails was missing, with only a few feathers and a trail of blood through the chicken wire in evidence. This time at least the cat is not to blame, and I wonder if it could have been a rat? Thankfully, our six chickens are all healthy and still laying four to five eggs a day despite the cooler weather. We really do have such a mild Winter here. In all our years living here we have never known a frost and even now my garden beds are full of ripening tomatoes.

I've let the chickens into the other veggie patch to clean it up, turn it over and fertilise it. I have so many plans for the garden, but it is all a matter of time and money - and I have had other priorities for my money lately - like camping and books. 

Family adventures, plants and books are all good priorities to have though I think!


Recently, Cohen and Emerson partook in a wood workshop to make their own crossbow. Emerson's shy-outer was soon unmasked by her desire to saw, hammer and drill. It was such rewarding fun to work alongside them and assist them as they followed the directions, measured, cut and assembled their projects. I actually forgot to take photos of the finished items, which are clever and wonderful, and which delighted both children. Needless to say, there has been much crossbow play with their blunt arrows ever since.

There are just so many opportunities to learn outside of school!