February 2014

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We played some more Animal Jam and added some new words to the list of, ‘I can read these words’. I made up some little cards with all the words, two for each word. My thinking was to play matching pairs with them, but I showed some of them to Astra and she loved telling me what they said. So they work as flashcards too. She was confused by my curly ‘I’ though, I’ll have to re-write all the words with ‘I’ in them!


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We played a couple of board games. Inspired by having seen the game on board HMAS Onslow, Astra wanted to play Battleships. And we played Snakes and Ladders too, always a favourite!

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We went to a home-ed park meet-up. None of the people we know were there, but there was a group of about 7 or 8 girls. Astra introduced herself and asked if she could join in. They played tag, stick in the mud, ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’, and did a lot of sitting and chatting.

We’ve had limited internet since we moved house, waiting for our connection. But we figured there was enough data left on the phones for Astra to skype her friend in England a couple of times. This made her really happy, she is missing her friends so much. It’s a big adjustment for us all.

We decided to do some ‘English’ (reading and writing!) every day for two weeks. Having enjoyed the swimming intensive so much, and having come so far so quickly, how about an ‘English Intensive’? Astra liked the idea. So, today we played Animal Jam together








As we were playing, I wrote down all the words Astra seemed to know. Afterwards, we went through the words again and I circled the ones Astra could read. 



Astra noticed the chess set had been unpacked and opened it up. I challenged her to a game. I was wrong about the knight, she is not confused by it at all. She plays pretty well considering we have only played it once or twice before. I think she will be beating me pretty soon….




It was Andy’s birthday so we went out to celebrate. There isn’t anything local so we caught the train to Panania and found a nice Thai restaurant there. We are a bit clueless with the chopsticks but Astra gave it a good go!




It’s remarkable how many times flags have cropped up since we started thinking about them. The latest one was this spider we spotted in the garden -

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The spider is called the, ‘St. Andrew’s Cross’ spider, named after the Scottish flag. It’s easy to see why it was given this name!

We’re trying to get used to the cockroaches and mosquitos which are unavoidable here. Thankfully the climate brings lots of positives too, lately the trees in our garden have been filled with noisy Cicadas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Kookaburras, and Parrots. There are plenty of smaller birds too, of course, but it will take time to get to know them.  

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There seems to be a possum but we are yet to catch a decent glimpse of her/him.

There are skinks everywhere we look, they scuttle away as we water the garden each day. There is much gardening to be done but for now, as we focus on unpacking our boxes, we are just trying to keep everything from drying out too much.

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A friend had a free pass to the Maritime Museum and invited us to go with them. It’s a great museum, quirky in places with some unusual exhibits.

We went on board the submarine HMAS Onslow. As we progressed through the sub, Astra and I were reminded of Coot, the boat we briefly lived on. Although this submarine is 4.5 times the length of our 65 foot narrowboat. Listening to the radio recordings and mock alarms, we could almost smell the tension that must have been present in war conditions.


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Then we went on the warship, HMAS Vampire. It’s a large ship and we did get lost a couple of times. Once again it was impossible to avoid imagining how it might have felt to be on board the ship under hostile conditions.

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We went in to the museum building and there was a chap sitting at a table building a model ship. We chatted with him for a while and he showed us some of the pieces  he was working with.

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There was an art display that we looked at for a long time. These were some of Astra’s favourite pieces - 

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The yacht belonging to the first woman to circumnavigate the globe single handed, some bathing suits from the 1920′s, an interactive, ‘how good are you at sonar’ quiz….we need to visit this museum again!

Astra was very taken with the whole thing and wanted to talk a lot about war. Fortunately we had a long walk to take her laptop to a repair shop, so we were able to talk and talk.

Astra designed a flag for ‘Teddy Heaven’. She tried several ideas out before settling on one -










She also made up a great National Anthem although I’m not sure either of us will remember it.


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She finished her rocket painting, and also made a couple of cards for her Dad’s birthday. The cake one shows the cake from above, from the side, and from below (it is on a cake tray). I gave her a dollar for the present card, a bargain!

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I set up our dining table with the world map on it. Astra is mostly interested in the flags, but also the distances between countries. 







It has been super hot so Astra and Andy have been doing a lot of watering the garden, and each other. Meanwhile the unpacking continues….


The swimming intensive finished with a diving competition and some games. Astra was team leader for the water volleyball and had to choose people for her team. That was her first experience of choosing a team, she enjoyed it! 






We spotted a lizard on the way to the park, it seems to be living in the grounds of the Chinese Friendship Garden, but ventures out to the surrounding walls and benches.






Astra and her friends played chess on the way home one day. Astra knows how to set the board up and how most of the pieces move, although the knight confuses her. 






I also spotted a large lizard in our garden, it was moving too fast for a good pic but it’s a blue tongued lizard. We have many small skinks living around the house, I hope the large lizard is also living here. 












Our things from the UK finally arrived, so we now have a room full of boxes to empty. Astra found Giraffey straight away and her favourite spot is the front garden.



Astra continued into the second week of the swimming intensive. Her friend joined the class so that made it even more fun. And I got to know a few of the other mums, and found out about lots more home-ed activities.



We did a little shopping and visited the Queen Victoria Building. Astra and I were both very impressed with this building.

After swimming one day we went to the Powerhouse museum with some friends. They have a computer game exhibition on, I wasn’t allowed to take photos but we all had a good time playing old and new games. After the museum we went to the park where Astra got a bit wet…

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We walked through Chinatown on our way home, as it is the Chinese New Year tomorrow. It was very busy and colourful and we spotted a few people wearing traditional dress.


Astra finished the first week of swimming and decided to sign up for week two. By the end of week one she was diving from a squatting position and swimming half a length of backstroke.




At the weekend we moved house. This involved a lot of rushing about, cleaning, rushing about, cleaning….



Our new house has an awesome garden. We have some huge trees which are popular with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, the laughing Kookaburra, and a pair of Lorikeets. Or parrots, we’re not sure yet.







Astra made friends with the trees in the garden and promised that she would take care of them.






Monday was a Bank Holiday for Sunday’s Australia Day. We bought a cake to celebrate,  I remembered to take a photo just in time. 



I was confused by the colours, at first thinking they must be from the Aboroginal flag, but then discovering that the Aboriginal flag is red, yellow and black. So it turns out that green and gold are the sporting colours of Australia, as worn by all sorts of teams and at the Summer Olympics.