May on Instagram

By way of making up for the large gaps of silence here at the blog, I will be posting a round-up of images from The Pukeko Patch’s Instagram feed.  You may have thought we weren’t doing much, but the converse is actually the case, and part of the reason there have been so few blog posts around the place.  Hopefully with the impending end of winter we might actually see more blog posts as the days get longer, and trick me in to thinking there are more hours available to get things done in.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we got up to in May.  Feel free to follow The Pukeko Patch on Instagram, if you prefer.

Willie Wonka by Master OhWaily

Willie Wonka by Master OhWaily

Willie Wonka by Miss OhWaily

Willie Wonka by Miss OhWaily

Nature Journal science. Parts of a flower & an impromptu dissection of a garden flower to find the equivalent parts.

Nature Journal science.

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

Build your own numbers.

Build your own numbers.

Mobile toy home

Mobile toy home

Master OhWaily's "Spinner of Doom".

Master OhWaily’s “Spinner of Doom”.

Beach construction.

Beach construction.


Herding elephants…

Let’s start off this blog post by pointing out the elephant in the room …. GUILT.

Lots and lots of guilt.  Attached to the idea that I should be taking time out for myself.
Who is this crazy woman?

I figure I’m a pretty normal sort of person most of the time, but when it comes to what goes on in my head when I bump up against the burn-out wall?  Well, let’s just say it’s not that pretty and it’s not that normal.  If you consider normal to mean that you value yourself as much as you value others.   Interestingly, no one else around me seems to think I’m less valuable in terms of needing time off than them.  They all actively encourage me, but there’s a nasty little gremlin in my head that tells me… they’re my priority and it’s my job to be educating them or looking after them 24/7.
Okay, so maybe I am crazy after all.

In fairness, I’m now a recovering crazy person.
The realisation that one of the best ways kids learn is by seeing behaviour modelled for them was a nasty moment for me.  The idea that it’s not an ‘either them or me’ situation also took a while to bed in.  But now I get it.  I need the time for my own benefit, my family’s benefit and as an important life-lesson for my kids. They need to see that their Mum values herself, and that she looks after herself.  I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking this is the right way to go about being a parent.  So now I have an extra incentive – I’m teaching them a life skill just like I did with brushing their teeth and making food.

So, what does a struggling, recovering, guilt-laden parent do for self-care?  Well, whatever flicks your switch, even if It needs to be a small thing to start off with.

I instigated a daily walk with my kids.  I’m the sort of person who needs to get out in the sunlight as often as possible, especially through winter, in order to feel good.  The walks get us all out in the fresh air, with a light amount of exercise thrown in.  When the time permits I try and do really long walks on my own, but they are still a rarity. I’m a work in progress and as my kids grow up I’m hopeful of making these walks longer and with a little more speed to them.

I indulge my creativity whenever I can.  I take photographs, either out on my own, or if I can’t get free time to myself – with my kids.  It isn’t always possible to have time to myself, and sometimes the guilt of taking big chunks of time out of our weekends makes it hard.  So I compromise.  We take a family field trip and as part of that I make sure the camera comes out and that I sneak my creativity in to my day that way.

I write whenever I can too.  Blogging is a great outlet for me and can be crammed in to a spare hour or so.  Often I write book reviews as a way of combining two things I love to do.  And there’s nothing quite like the bliss of going to the library on my own, to browse quietly and without distraction.  The urge to rush through the process and head home quickly still strikes every now and then, but it is getting better.  And on my good days (read: feeling less guilty) I even indulge in finding a cafe for an added treat.

I still have hurdles to climb – like getting fit and eating better.  But at least I’m finally on the road to better self-care, and like I’m always telling my kids – mastery comes from practice, so practice I will.

Edited to add:

Every now and then the hurdles get pretty big, and sometimes the best self-care is to take a guilt-free break.  It’s pretty hard to face that sort of decision when your inner driving force is all about working for the betterment of others.  But that’s where we sometimes need to go.  Self first, others second.  Only then can we hope to keep giving our best efforts to those around us.

It’s also a bit of an ego issue, albeit a subconscious one and not related to a narcissistic temperament.  They need me to always be available.  Things will fall apart if I’m not the one doing and organising and driving us forward.  Well, guess what sunshine?  The world doesn’t stop when you take some time out.  In fact, it might just be the perfect thing for everyone if you stopped trying to be in control of everything.  Maybe they will learn to take control.  Maybe they can be self-organising.  Maybe they will learn to step up to the plate when they need to.  If you don’t give them the space to try, then they and you will certainly never find out if it is possible.

Take the break.  Fill your bucket with fun, creative, healthy adventures to re-invigorate yourself.  Let those around you step up for themselves; let them stretch their abilities and grow as people.  You are, in fact, doing the opposite of being selfish – you are empowering others.

Go on.

Do it!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

catcfMiss Oh Waily’s Review

It was a great book. I liked the book because it was funny and silly, and because Violet turned in to a massive blueberry.  I also liked it when Verucca fell down the hole and I liked it when Willie Wonka had a candy boat.

Charlie was my favourite character because he was the only nice kid.  I also liked Willie Wonka because he made a ton of chocolate and it was amazing. And I liked Grandpa Joe because he danced around the room when he got out of bed for the first time in twenty years.


Master Oh Waily’s Review

I thought it was really funny and nice.
The main part of the story I liked was the Oompa Loompas and how Verucca was thrown down the acorn chute by the squirrels.  The squirrels were very hilarious when Verucca went to grab one.  And I liked the fact that Violet Beauregard ate the chewing gum and she turned in to a blueberry, and how Augustus got sucked up a pipe.

I liked how funny Augustus was because he was so greedy.  Charlie was the best because he was so nice.


Ancients and Art

This is what we are going through this year in History.  I’ve chosen to hit the middle ground between the kids so that I can do one set of readings with them.  It’s about a year ahead of the young lad and a year lower for the young miss.  But, like all things home ed, it can be tailored to suit as you go along.

As I mentioned before, we are trialling Build Your Library this year and so far it seems to be working a treat.  We cover literature, history, art, language arts, mythology and we will be adding in the science component shortly.  Maths we already do through our My Pals Are Here! curriculum from Singapore.

What I’m enjoying about BYL is that many of those different curriculum areas are nicely tied together.  The art activities tie in with the period or culture being read about in the history section and this also applies to the mythology.  With the language arts and literature, they tie together with the book being read.

I obviously need to supplement this with ‘specific to the kid’ extras.  For instance, Miss Oh gets a bit of spelling practice while Master Oh gets some more reading practice.  But I can say categorically that we have more flow to our days now and I think some of that can be put down to using BYL.

So today, I thought I’d show you a bit of their art which tied in with their history lessons around archaeology.  Specifically, cave painting.  Here are how Miss Oh Waily and Master Oh Waily represented cave art à la Lascaux.  It helped that we already had crumpled paper from our moving that could replicate the texture of a cave wall.

G's Cave Art

Miss Oh’s art depicts a bull being hunted with a spear, and you can note her normal motif of small baby and mother included to the right of the action.  And yes, the ‘boy bits’ were intentional.

M's Cave Art

In Master Oh’s work we see a bit of a mixed theme.  And true to his style, this piece of visual art was accompanied by a lengthy explanation of what is going on.  For brevity I will shorten it here.
You are witnessing a bull being hunted.  The two figures at top and on the right are holding torches, while the figure on the left has a spear ready.  The golden spear-like object in the bull’s bottom (or “butt-arks” as Master Oh likes to call it) is supposedly a copper spear.  So a discussion regarding when technological advances was had regarding that particular aspect of the drawing.  There was more to the story, but I think that gives you the gist of it.

If you or your kids are interested in the amazing cave art of Lascaux, I can’t recommend this link more.  The interactive experience of gliding through the caves looking at the drawings is most excellent.

Happy Home Edding!

Shaking up our New Year

This year I wanted to try something a little different with the Oh Waily kids.  I gave the idea of letting them loose a go and taking a more unschooling route at the end of last year.  Unfortunately I’ve found that doesn’t fit me, or produce engaged and curious kids – for my kids – over the time we relaxed our approach.  There was just a bit too much screen time and a bit too much single focus on one interest (but not in a creative way) for me to let it go on through this year.  In fairness, I still think following your passions is a great thing and I will definitely be encouraging them to do so, but as a part of their home ed journey – not their only part.  As it turned out in Master Oh’s case it was clear that screen time was not an ideal match for his personality, so “Hell-lo, Eclectic Home Ed. We’re baaaaack!”

In addition to returning to our eclectic ways, I’ve also decided to shake up what and how often we spend on different learning areas.  We’re going to be mixing and matching things, but essentially I’m going to see if a Charlotte Mason (secular version) approach is a good fit for all of us.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to try out the Build Your Library curriculum and see how it goes.

I’ve chosen Grade 1; it’ll be just about right for Master Oh and a bit simple for Miss Oh, but I wanted to give a single grade a trial first to see if we liked it.  I will probably weave in our existing History Odyssey and RSO curriculums too as the year goes on.  One note though… it is likely to leave quite the dent in the bank balance with book buying, although with my love for Book Depository that should be more pleasure than pain.

As of today, my goal for our home ed, and family life in general, is pretty simple: it’s all about re-establishing some basic routines.
The relocation to our new home is quite a big upheaval for the Oh Waily kids.  Master Oh has only known living in Wellington as we moved there when he was a one year old, and of course they’ve left behind good friends.  Miss Oh seems to be coping pretty well with it, but the young man is less enamoured with our move, so I want to get some rhythm to our days to help with settling in.

So that’s where we are at just now.  I will try to start posting a bit more frequently, in between the last of the box clearing and reshuffling that will probably continue for the next month!

In the meantime let me leave you with a website recommendation – and the accompanying Facebook group.

If you are a secular home educator then you might want to check out the SEA Homeschoolers website.  It’s been a wealth of information and interesting reading in the short time that I’ve been aware of it.  The accompanying Facebook group has also been an eye-opener for what it must be like to be secular in many parts of the USA, as well as a great source of ideas and resource suggestions.  I hope you find something useful and/or interesting there to help you along your home ed journey!

Changes are afoot in the Oh Waily household.  Big changes.

We are no longer going to be Wellingtonians, or Lower Huttians for that matter.  This time next week will see us packing up and heading north.  After a seven hour or so car journey we will arrive in our new town and have travelled from A to B.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.03.55 PM

I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to Wellington.  We’ve made lovely friends here and have enjoyed our time in the city.  I can highly recommend it if you are looking for a great city to live in.

But the rest of 2016 will see us become more familiar with the Bay of Plenty.  There should be quite a few field trips in the offing as we see what this new-to-us region has to offer.  As this is the area that some of our family lives in we are familiar with quite a bit of it, but by no means all of it.

We will get to know the locals, like this chap – Tangaroa.


And hopefully spend a bit of our time here.


I’m picking that not only will our location be different this year, but so will our regular home ed days. I feel a new vibe coming on this year, so I will write more on that once we are settled in and most of the boxes are unpacked.

In the meantime, wish us luck, we’ll need it to get through the next two weeks without going potty.


For those unfamiliar with rugby in New Zealand, the title of this blog post refers to the two local Super Rugby teams for Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.  Oh the quandary of who to support. 😉


Hurricanes or Chiefs?

Secular Homeschool Awareness Month

February SHS Awareness MonthWhen this post crossed my Google Plus path a little earlier this month I just had to smile.

As a relatively recent arrival in the world of home educating I’ve always been on the lookout for blogs that I could relate to. Finding local blogs or specific groups has been a hard row to hoe, so I’ve often turned my attention overseas.

When we do head offshore to the wonders of a multiplicity of blogs and groups there is a very high percentage chance that the blogger will not be secular.  Often this makes very little difference to me with regards to enjoying reading the blog or idea gathering, but sometimes it does.  Sometimes this aspect of a person’s life informs absolutely everything about their writing, recommendations and ideas; and that’s when I feel the quietness of the Secular Home Ed bloggers.

I’m joining the link up because I’d like to find other sources of information and resources from people who are similar in outlook to ourselves.  I’d also like to promote the idea that home educators are a diverse bunch, including those who identify as secular.  It’d be nice if we were a bit more visible on the interwebs for those newcomers to find.

So yeah, anyway… let’s celebrate “Secular Homeschool Awareness Month” !

And to my secular home ed friends… don’t forget to join in too.


Inspired somewhat by Miss Oh’s videos of her Let’s Play world, I decided that it would be nice to create something for parents of young Minecrafters.

When I first heard of Minecraft it sounded like it had a lot of potential for the Oh Waily kids to learn lots of new skills while having fun.  So I went off and gave it a trial run.  Just me. On my own.

I can tell you it was less than successful as the game comes with no instructions and there I was trying to work out how to do things.  I managed to figure out the punching thing and the digging by hand thing but the crafting stuff just bamboozled me.  While I’m all for exploration and figuring things out, if your young one chooses to play Survival (any version except Peaceful) and they don’t work enough things out before night-time, then they encounter the game’s googlies.  This is likely to mean a quick end to the game and if they re-spawn (re-enter the game) they are likely to be very close to the bad guys again and the same quick end is likely to turn in to “Groundhog Day”.  If your kids are very young or have a temperament that feels these sorts of defeats, then this could put them off from playing what is a very open-ended, creative, sandbox game.

Now there may be other videos and articles out there for parents to watch or read, so they can help with these very first steps, but I didn’t find them when we started.  And since we’ve been at this for a little while now I have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge and resources to help my young’ens make the most out of their games.  Frankly, now they’re the ones teaching me what to do and what not to.  If we decide to make more than a basic introduction series of three or four videos, it’s possible that the Patch kids might take over the Guide videos.  (Yes, I’m always angling for learning experiences.)

In the meantime, if you’re the parent of a young one desperate to give Minecraft a go and want a basic introduction to get them through the first night or two please stop over at our first foray into tutorials.  Our intention is to put one out each week until we think we’ve covered enough of the basics that a young child can survive in order to do the exploration Minecraft is so good for.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment here or over on the video.  We will do our best to answer them for you.

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Minecraft for Parents

RainbowGems' picture of those people she loves. ️#afkhlove16
Posted by Instagrate to WordPress

This is Miss Oh’s picture of the people she loves.  It’s her entry in to an online art contest run by her favourite YouTube art channel, Art For Kids Hub.

Her drawings have taken on a new twist since she has started to avidly work through the videos she is attracted to.  Do you see those eyes?  The ones with white highlights?  Up until her current patch of drawing along with these guys you would not have seen those.  There are more, subtle, changes to the way she draws now which I certainly put down to her watching and replicating from the videos.  So if you have a young child who is creative, this might be a good option for them.  But watch out for the origami section, you might find your house overflowing with papery creations, and every birthday and Christmas may be accompanied by a folded masterpiece.  Go on.  Ask me how I know.   🙂

Valentine’s Day Art contest

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2016 !


I hope that you and your family have had a nice holiday season.

Now that it is almost back to normal routine, I thought I’d share a few snippets that have caught my eye over the break.  The first is a wonderful quote from Jamie Martin from Simple Homeschool.  As home educating parents it’s very easy to slip into a sort of personal martyrdom over getting enough time for ourselves as people.  I know I fall in to this trap each year, and putting in place a plan to avoid it is one of my personal 2016 resolutions.

Math time will not be more important than Mommy time–each will have their proper place, and I will not sacrifice the essence of who I am on a self-made altar of perfectionism.

No longer will I take a back seat to the home educating of my kids.  We will be equal partners in this process where they will get a much better role model, and a much more resilient and relaxed Mum.  If you are an introvert who home educates, you might like the blog post this quote came from, 15 new year’s resolutions for the introverted homeschool mom.

My other parenting / educating resolutions come from a single blog post by Dr Laura Markham of Aha Parenting.  You might have noticed me posting about her writings before.  Well, this blog post on Preventative Maintenance is going to be a cornerstone for me this year.  I have been hit and miss with this in the past year and I think I’ve stored up quite a bit of work for myself as a result.

In essence my 2016 Parenting Goals are:

  1. Look after Myself
  2. Daily roughhousing
  3. Daily special time
  4. Empathic limit setting

Interestingly, the order I have chosen to write those in is probably the priority they need to take.  If I let myself get run down there is no mental or physical bounce that will allow me to roughhouse or be fully participative in our special time.  And without the stress-release of roughhousing and special time, the likelihood is a greater need for limit setting.  Without a rested Mum, the limit setting is unlikely to be empathic, so here we are… full circle.

In a very loving and kind way – 2016 is going to be about ME.

What’s 2016 going to be about for you?  I’d love to hear.