Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How goes it?

It's rather busy here! I bought a 2nd hand science text book - although I have no idea why - and Stylish has started doing it off her own bat. She can't STOP doing it actually. Todays efforts were about food additives, pesticides, and a few other foody things. She raided out cupboard and read food labels, wrote down her findings, and was assisted by Spikee.

The bird is going well, it's drivimg me mad coz it's so loud, but hopefull it'll grow tail feathers and be ready to get back to nature soon. It's flying quite efficiently now, but apparently they grow tail feathers before they leave the next.

The rat is doing well too, but she still refuses to look at rat food. You wouldn't know that a few short weeks ago she was at death's door!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I've been considering getting myself a really big treat for my birthday, a daschund. Whilst scouring the internet looking for breeders, I came across an ad that JUST FELT WRONG. It said "Hi, if you need to re-home your pet rats, please email me. You can drop them off at my house. I have room for 7 rats all up, and offer the best care possible whilst I re-home your loved one" or words to that effect. It also described the rat this mystery person already owns, and gave some details about the happy existence it has. Soooo, feeling a little bit suspicious about this, I checked the contact email address and to my non-surprise I discovered that IT WAS STYLISH'S!

As tempted as I was to charge down the hallway, guns blazing, calling for blood, I decided that that particular method would not involve any lessons learnt, and may in fact just cause further tensions. So I thought carefully about what to do, and then contacted a few friends and asked for their assistance with this matter. One friend volunteered to email her and OPERATION I SMELL A RAT began!

My friends sent her some emails offering her rats! One had a litter of 12 that were of an undisclosed sex, and were only 2 weeks old. One had three male rats. One of the emails said ...

I have 6 rats, one has a resected bowel and needs regular care because it basically leaks diarrhoea constantly, but she's a real sweetie, very cute and cuddly. One of the other ones was born a siamese twin, it's twin was removed by the vet, but it still has one extra leg that couldn't be removed, and the scar is prone to infection so you need to be on to that - I'll bring you the rest of the antibiotic cream to put on it as well.
Thanks so much, I think it's great what you're doing.

and another said ...


I saw your ad on xxxxxxxx and would like to offer you 3 pedigree Poodle Woollen Rats (One is fluoro pink, accident with highlighter I'm afraid), 1 Blueberry Rainforest rat, 1 White tailed Chocolate Rat and 1 Skipping Tree Rat. When could you take them off our hands? We are moving out of Cairns to Kuranda and need to get rid of them ASAP. I can throw in the cage and the dry food too.


P.s The Skipping Tree rat bites. Suspect its not pedigree but a mutt given how close to the common garden rat it looks like. And it doesn't skip anymore.

She sent responses like


Oh I am so sorry but someone just abandoned two rats with litters and now I have 22 rats! I am having a hard time hand rearing 6 that the mother won't feed so I can give you a contact number for someone who can help as I can't?


Hello, OMG I would be so happy to help! but they would need their mother at that stage up until 6weeks so can can you deal with giving her up to? I am quite capable of helping :) I just raised a litter of rats with my mum that were found abandoned at my door step they were rehomed to a lovely woman :)

Then she sheepishly came into our bedroom (where A and I were muffling our laughter because we knew she'd just checked her email) and told me about a terribly sick rat that needed to come and be cared for by us. And then added something vague about how she'd put an ad on a website and then "forgotten about it" - not before we got two revolting, stinking male rats the size of your average Great Dane! And it was at this point that I said to her "You should be careful what you advertise on the internet, because YOUR MOTHER MIGHT FIND THE AD". She didn't cotton on, and repeated the case for the poor sick rat with 5 legs and a seeping wound ... so I repeated my sage advice, and suddenly she froze. She'd worked it out! She wanted to get angry at me, but she was laughing too hard, thank heavens!

Soooo, I think that a valuable lesson was learnt here tonight! There are lots of freaks on the internet, be glad it was your mother (and some freak with a pink rat!) who discovered this ad and not a real, dangerous, predator.

She has removed the ad now I'm pleased to say.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rats, Birds, and Tennis

Today we went to Stylish's first tennis lesson with a bunch of home schooled kids, mostly about her age. Apparently it was BORING ... but isn't everything meant to be boring when you're nearly a teenager? I told her that she can do a few more lessons before she decided that she doesn't like it, then if she doesn't she can stop going. I thought if she REALLY hated it she'd kick up a stink but she barely managed a moan, so it can't be THAT bad.

The rat is almost back to full health! She still turns her nose up at rat food, but she eats so little that it's not really a big issue. After her ordeal recently we're just happy to have her, so if she wants boiled eggs and strawberries, I suppose she can just have it. She was well enough to go for a walk around the block on Stylish's shoulder this afternoon, and her coat looks so shiny and her eyes are so bright and sparkly!

The bird is sprouting feathers and starting to flap them enthusiastically. It's also formed quite a bond with Stylish, and this evening when it was tired it called and called until she went and got it, brought it into the room where she was watching tv, and sat it in her lap. The baby bird fell asleep straight away - birds are big on attachment parenting apparently! It's such a loud little thing, it has her up, feeding it nice and early every morning, she even tried to reunite it with it's family (unsuccessfully) because of it's early morning antics *I will not laugh*.

Our move to Tasmania is starting to look like a very real part of the future! In the next couple of months I will leave the kids here with A and fly down to look at a few places, then if we find one we're perfectly happy with we'll buy it. We plan on having the baby while we're here with a fantastic support group, everyone from our wonderful doula, to our midwife and my counselor! Then in October - or there abouts - we'll head on down to Antarctica! Spikee is very excited because one of the houses we looked at had snow on the front lawn, and Stylish wants a ferret (which we will not get, but she insists we will).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bullying Builds Youth Suicide Rates, NOT RESILIENCE!

The other day someone told my daughter that if she were at school and bullies gave her a hard time, it would build resilience. Is this common opinion the reason we don't actually put forward any real methods of dealing with bullying? Because it's making kids resilient? Does violence in the home make children resilient?

How often do you hear of someone who was so damaged by bullying that they attempt, or even succeed to commit suicide? And plenty of adults are in therapy because of bullying.

Why do we take bullying in the work place seriously enough to let the law deal with it, and yet many incidences of bullying in the playground, where children are forbidden to leave, are all but ignored.

I know from personal experience, from the experiences I had attempting to deal with bullying when my daughter was in prison, to the many many anecdotal stories I hear from individuals as well as media outlets, that schools are completely inept when it comes to dealing with violence. I also know - and would like to stress - that violence is not just physical, it can be emotional, financial, verbal and I'm sure there are other varieties of violence too. A child does not need to be punched to be a victim of violence - threatening behaviour, name calling, stealing (money or other property), online bullying and stalking, and all manner of other beastly acts are VIOLENT.

Perhaps we need to re frame bullying as VIOLENCE because the word bullying has come to diffuse the seriousness of this abuse, and the ramifications for victims are all too often a lifetime of pain - or suicide.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Bird Story

Stylish's obsession with wildlife is gonna be the death of me! The neighbour found a baby bird and brought it to us because she knew A would know what to do with it. She took one look at it and said "that's a noisy myna, it's about two weeks old, they're nectivores, it'll fledge in about a week, and then be independent a week later" then bustled it inside and started feeding it honey water and cockroaches. To think, if she were at school she could be learning about .... gee I dunno!? And I doubt she could tell me THAT much about whatever it was.

I can't wait for this fortnight to be over ... they're not called noisy mynas for no reason.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Ratty Update

The little rat who has been in labour for days seems to have taken a strange turn. We have a feeling that she was too young to give birth, she' is an extremely small rat - not that I ascribe to that school of thought, I know pelvises open, but she laboured for over 72 hours and no kittens appeared. Rats have babies in about 2 hours generally speaking. Sooooo she was exhibiting labour behaviour, lost blood, and didn't have babies for three days, leaving us all terribly worried that she would die of an infection. But miraculously, her swollen belly has gone down, and she appears to be on the mend - sans babies! The only explanation for this is that she is reabsorbing the babies, as can sometimes happen in small mammals.

She has been sleeping on Stylish's bed, we left her well alone in a darkened cage while she appeared to be straining in labour, when it looked like it was going to be a marathon effort we did give her honey water and lots of protein rich food every few hours. She seemed to want company but we didn't want to disturb her body in it's efforts to do what mother nature intended for rats to do. When her labour stopped she seemed so desperate for company, climbing up our hands when we put food in her cage for her. So we got her out and gave her lots of cuddles and spoiled her silly with tasty food.

After all the worry, when he eyes got bright, and she seemed to want to move about, and she was eating, drinking, pooing and weeing, we started to feel like there could be some hope, but she was still very weak and we didn't wanna get out hopes up too much. But it's been three days now and she really seems to be recovering! Last night after consuming half a strawberry she got up and walked out of her little nest. She walked about 30cm, and then back to her nest, which was the first time she had been able to do that. then over night Stylish woke up and went to check her and she had vanished, she was found in her favourite play spot, under Stylish's bed! She is still in her nest now, and refusing to eat rat food - why would you when you keep being given such exciting treats as strawberries, yogurt, and green tea?

So the vigil continues, but we are certainly hopeful that she will pull through.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

School - Teaching Dependent Thinking

Since the fall of the World Trade Centres we have heard time and time again how Westernised education teaches children to think for themselves, whereas schooling where "our enemies" are from teaches children by rote, without provoking independent thought or an ability / desire to question the powers that be, and read between the lines. The reason they question our system of government is because they are not free thinking ... apparently.

However, I can't comment on any style of education outside that which I have been exposed to.

In Westernised countries children are supposedly being taught to think for themselves, however I really don't see much evidence of that. Take the adults we encounter daily - those who were schooled for between 11 and 13 years in our free thinking system. How many of them are totally horrified at the state of education within the institution, complain about it, can see how unhappy many children are, and yet feel that my choice to homeschool is a purely rebellious and dangerous act that disadvantages my children!?

It's the same with hospital birth. One can spend hours bemoaning the state of our hospitals, how people are dying from anti-biotic resistant super bugs, they are understaffed, staff are over tired and make mistakes (like amputating the WRONG LIMB!), cesareans are all to often performed for no good reason, equipment is old and out dated, and yet my home birth is crazy and dangerous?

Why is it that [almost] an entire society of people, who have reportedly learnt to think for themselves, and question the status quo, fail to see the irony?

Possibly because it's impossible to teach people to think. Thinking is a natural ability that everyone has. However the institution judges individual thoughts and grades them according to a list of criteria that don't necessarily support real thinking. Given that a criteria must be set, in order to judge pupils evenly, it's impossible to include all the realms of possibility in that critique. So some thoughts are judged to be valid, and some fall outside the criteria and are deemed to be a failure.

It's also possible that the peer pressure in schooling means that children actually spend more time learning to question what THEY are thinking, and deciding whether or not to voice that idea, than learning to confidently consider the personal truths behind their ideas.

Another very real possibility is that schools teach children that some things are not up for question, only certain things warrant deconstruction, and they will be laid out in front of students neatly - with pre-packaged plans for class discussion and the rest will stay in the closet. For example if a student questions part of the curriculum. That is NOT up for discussion. The teacher knows best, the curriculum has been designed with the students best interests at heart, and as such ... it is not up for discussion. Another example would be that any decision a teacher makes about punishment is final, no discussion will be entered into - any discussion will result in further punishment.

So there are permissible subjects, and illegal subjects of discussion within the institution. That must definitely sway a child's ability to question the powers that be. A group of kids sitting in the playground mumbling about how irrelevant a particular subject is to them, or how unjust a teacher has been, feel like little rebels. Not Free thinking, valid, smart, aware people! By the time that same group of little rebels hit adulthood they have most likely been brainwashed into believing that their free thoughts were no more than the quibbles of insignificant children - personally I find that very disturbing!

There is so little room for freedom within any given institution that it is impossible for them to cater to each individuals needs. And the people that are given the responsibility of raising functional humans, humans to populate the work force, and re-populate the education system , are mere products of that institution! Drones! And one of the greatest lessons they learnt in school is that they are living in a free thinking country, surrounded by free thinking, FREE, citizens.

Dissent is silenced in our culture - something we are very fast to criticise other countries for! But the truth is that people are put in prison for expressing some views, they are chalked up as loonies, and laughed at by the wider community. For example, those who believe that the World Trade Centre attack was actually a government plan. Regardless of the merits of such an idea, the people who have used their free thinking skills to research and document their arguments are labelled as dangerous dissenters, little more than crack pots. Journalists who have reported - or attempted to report - these views are fired depending on the light in which they air this angle.

But surely, if we live in such a free thinking, free speech generating society, these ideas shouldn't be so threatening! They should receive the polite respect due to each individual when they express their opinion, shouldn't they?

I used to believe that schools were the only way to educate children - but I knew their limitations, I used to think that hospitals were the only safe place to give birth - but I knew how dangerous they were! I wasn't thinking for myself when I sent my child to school, or when I gave birth to her in a hospital. I didn't know there were alternatives! Our free society hadn't informed me that I had any choices in either matter. I used to think that terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into big buildings, killing thousands of innocent people. I still think that, but I now question whether or not there was government involvement behind the plot. The US Government would not be the first government to do something that harmed its' citizens in order to sway political direction.

In order for children to receive a full, free thinking education, in order to make them genuinely free individuals who can raise more free thinking individuals, we must give children BOTH sides of the argument, and allow them to discuss freely their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. For this to happen, schools must operate on a democratic system - something our country is unable to do. We must allow children the right to be children, allowing them complete bodily integrity (eat when hungry, pee when the need arises without seeking permission, seek comfort when necessary etc etc) allowing them to voice their views, follow their own interests, learn at their own pace, be judged against themselves and not other students, and most of all children must grow to understand and meet their own needs at a time that suits them. No institution can offer that, the fact that they claim to is worrying.

At home my children live in a far left wing, secular environment, but we openly discuss the views of the middle left, right, and far right. We not only discuss them, we try to imagine why these people hold their views so closely - the same way we do. We discuss religion and validate the rights of all people to choose and follow a religion. We allow our children to research subjects that interest them without telling them that any subject is not worthy of their interest (although I struggle with the monster truck as a worthy interest) or suggesting other subjects that society may consider more valid and useful.

My children will learn to think for themselves. They will epitomise everything our society is meant to foster .... their views will likely differ from the views of the state, and other schooled children but, for that I am glad! My children will be free thinking individuals! Unfortunately they will reside in a society that views it's greatest attribute to be one that it is not even in possession of - FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND SPEECH.

Events ....

Today Stylish's rat started acting strangely. We have a friend who is very involved in the local Fancy Rat Society, ans as soon as she heard our rat was being strange she came straight over to have a look. One look determined that she is in labour .... so we are about to be overrun with small fur free rodents - DRAT!

We went out for lunch today and on the way home we stopped in at vinnies. I found a jumper for myself, a green earthy t-shirt for Stylish, and a mauve pair of skinny leg jeans (apparently these are desirable items!?) that fit her PERFECTLY. it's like they were tailor made! I also got two triangular "made in Japan" brand plates, a Katherine Kerr book, and a fantastic book from the Eye-spy that is all about archaeology. Hopefully one of them will take an interest in it at some stage! All up, my shopping spree cost $19

I am now half way through a pregnancy, and feeling quite excited! The baby is starting to get quite active and I feel a lot of wriggling throughout the day. The kids are thrilled and keep asking me when the baby will be born, and being disappointed with my same old, same old answer. Spikee keeps insisting that he will be asleep when the baby is born, and if his prediction is correct then there's nothing we can do, he won't wake up, no matter how exciting the reason! Stylish should be about though, so at least one of them will witness the arrival of their sibling!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

General happenings

Spikee has started to take a real interest in reading. We spent a whole bus ride today discussing B is for Bus and D is for Dinosaur and so on and so forth, and I had to read all the signs to him. Tonight I'm thinking of showing him the Reading Eggs website and seeing if he's interested.

It's fascinating watching a child start to develop an interest in reading and writing, and not feeling like they need to go to school to learn. Knowing they will simply absorb it by immersing them self in daily life is such an amazing thing!

Stylish's latest obsession is birds and bird nests. She's become a regular bird watcher and can identify different types of birds and their nests. She's learning about which birds are native and which have been introduced, can tell you how long a baby bird stays in its' nest and when it learn to fly, what they eat (pigeons feed their young MILK!?!?!?!), the different names for the birds, depending on what they eat and so on and so forth. She even floated the idea of becoming an ornithologist ... but I'm confident we'll be back to frogs soon.

The maths obsession continues, and her quest to learn all her times tables (up to 12) is going unbelievably well. nearly seven years in a school failed to teach her what she's self taught herself in a matter of weeks. Her confidence in her mathematical ability has sky rocketed and it's really lovely to see the change from "I'm hopeless at maths" to "I can do this now, I just had to WANT to do it!".

We are thinking of moving to Tasmania towards the end of the year and buying a house there. There are several reasons to move to Antarctica ... I mean Tasmania. Firstly it means we can buy a house and have a very tiny mortgage on it, whereas if we stay here we would need a huge mortgage and be unable to afford holidays and other little joys like dining out. Also, the weekly repayments on a tiny mortgage are quite literally only 10% of the cost of our current rental property! Secondly it means we will be able to afford a solar panel! I want a solar panel because a) they're environmentally sustainable and b) it will cut our power bills dramatically - making living even more affordable! I also want a water tank for the same reasons. Thirdly and, possibly one of my greatest motivators, we will have the room for chickens and maybe even a couple of ducks! Plus a big veggie garden and a green house, and a dog! The lifestyle change will be dramatic, from living in a major city to living in a glorified country town (we're looking at places just outside Hobart), and I expect it will do us all the world of good! A move towards a more sustainable lifestyle is the greatest gift you can give your children in my opinion.