The Ocean Our Classroom at Pettmans Beach

Last week we spent our days on a stretch of 90 mile beach called Pettmans beach; nearby Lakes Entrance.
It was a sand filled, water immersed week of camping; the children’s afternoons occupied by swimming, playing, and exploring this truly beautiful area.

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Zubin loves the beach and was fascinated by the feel and taste of the shells and sand.

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There was a sand bank along the shore which changed slightly each day with the coming and going of the tide. I loved to watch Zubin as he deftly climbed down; turning around at the top to safely clamber down backwards, feet first. Climbing back up was a little harder but after several attempts he triumphantly succeeded.

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He spent hours of the afternoons and evenings in our arms and on his Dad’s shoulders as we strolled along the shore,

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curiously observing and taking in the beautiful surroundings,

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and sleeping in the Ergo with the sounds of waves to lull him,

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and my footsteps to rock him.

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And he played; his brother and sister his playmates, the ocean’s offerings his toys.

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Anusha immersed herself in beach life. The sand dunes her adventure playground.

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The sand and sun her sanctuary and warmth when the water became too cold,

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and providing her with hours of fun as she built fairy castles, tunnels, and trenches.

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At first Anusha was unable to swim as the waves were too rough and a trench on the shoreline too deep, but after discovering the low tide in the afternoons she excitedly took to the water.

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At times she needed the help of her big brother,

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But as the week passed by she grew more and more confident and swam more in the sea than she has ever before. Having an amazing time and never wanting to leave.

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Elki took to the ocean with his love of swimming and enthusiasm for adventure.

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He found the water irresistible,

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the waves providing hours of thrill and challenge,

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and the inspiration for imaginative play as he battled powerful enemies.

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Elki’s love of crystals and Earth treasures was ignited further by the plentiful and beautiful trove of rocks and shells along the beach. Most days a new find was added to his collection and he excitedly collected these special rocks with his sister to give to Zubin on his approaching birthday.

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The stunning sunsets most evenings were colourful and magical,

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and food for our eyes

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and spirits.

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I found the ocean a refreshing and inspiring delight for my whole being; my afternoons spent with my feet in the invigorating water, listening to the rhythm of the ocean and my children’s playful enjoyment.

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And an exciting surprise for all of us was catching glimpses on several days of two stunning Lace Monitors! A true highlight of the week.

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I was constantly amazed by the beauty of Pettmans beach, and surprised that we often had it all to ourselves! Thank you to this most special part of Australia for being our classroom for a week ❤

Celebrating My 14 Year Old’s Birthday | The Melbourne Museum

My first born turned 14 years old on Tuesday the first! I am such a blessed mama!
In the morning we woke, wished our boy a happy day, gave him his birthday cards and gifts, and I read him his birth story….

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We camped close enough to Melbourne so that we could take Elki into the city to celebrate his special day.
After breakfast we took him out to spend his birthday money; he had planned his spending and knew what he wanted, and then we went out for a seriously delicious vegan lunch at Lord of the Fries, and dropped in to Smith and Deli for takeaway vegan birthday donuts.

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That night we sang Happy Birthday by candlelight and torchlight and he ate his Birthday donut (Amazingly yummy!)

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The next day we embarked on another big day; the Melbourne museum.

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There was some initial frantic, rushing to see what came next; the dinosaur walk an exciting start, and the flying pterosaurs (especially Quetzalcoatl) sparking a lot of interest.

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Elki was in awe of the giant squid in the underwater gallery.

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The bug gallery was super interesting, we saw dung beetles with life sized elephant poo, gorgeous stick insects, and tiny, tiny wood insects but Anusha was very trepidatious about seeing any spiders so we walked on to the Wild gallery to see the animals.

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Animals are what she is drawn to and most interested in. Even though we all found the stuffed animals rather unnerving, we tried out the interactive computers to find out the names of animals we didn’t know.

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We had a wander around the Children’s gallery,

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The textural feel of this a favourite of all the children.

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The different visible levels and layers of the forest gallery were quite beautiful. The children looked into the core of a dead tree to see what lived inside,

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and saw fish swimming under the water of a creek.

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The Aboriginal cultural gallery was fascinating for us all: Anusha listened to the different languages of the varying Aboriginal countries and Aboriginal names for some Australian animals; telling me the name for Echidna and asking me to listen.

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Elki spent time finding out the names and uses of some Aboriginal hand tools and weapons,

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And we all learned about Aboriginal toys. I absolutely loved the breasts and baby toy!

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After wandering the Aboriginal gallery and Te Pacifica gallery, with it’s awesome boats and masks that Elki showed me and thought were awesome, (interestingly, the masks were made in an area of New Guinea close to where Scott spent the first five years of his life) we had a look around the Melbourne gallery.
Anusha and I were fascinated by this construction of an old Melbourne house. Elki found the old weapons most appealing.

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We then made our way outside for a picnic; Elki happening across a blunderbuss, a favourite of his!

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After lunch and a rest in the shade we made our way back in and looked around the Mind and body gallery.
We were all getting a bit weary but before leaving we checked out the Dynamic Earth gallery and it was a definite favourite!
After Elki and I had looked at each of the globes of Earth in formation and were dazzled by the crystals, we all found each other in the movie theatre. The 3D volcano movie was amazing, Elki exclaiming in delight; “it was like surfing the lava!” Anusha and I loved it and felt slightly sick and overwhelmed all at the same time. But definitely a great way to end our visit.

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The following day we recovered and Elki enjoyed his new birthday purchases; Lego, Yu gi oh cards, which he tried out with his Dad and sister, and a set of the Heroes of Olympus books.
I’ve now been a mama for about two fifths of my life and I am dearly looking forward to sharing another fifth with this beautiful boy.

Unschooling | Our Homeschooling Journey

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Over the past year our homeschooling journey has been evolving and settling into a new rhythm.
New tides and growing waves have brought changes into our life and my way of thinking.

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A precious new baby joining our family, and our decision to embark on a year long family camping adventure around mainland Australia were catalysts for needed change.

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For several years our homeschooling life has been based on a loose but consistent Waldorf foundation and curriculum.

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But as we adjusted our days to meet the changes occurring in our life I began to see our family’s needs being met in different ways.

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Ways that are more natural, more flowing, and truly authentic.
The children’s learning has become more self led; instigated by their current interests and needs. And I have realised that letting go, really letting go; of false ideals and previously held misconceptions of how natural learning occurs, is the best and most exciting way forward for our family.

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I have been reading a lot, and affirming my own realisations and thoughts.
On our homeschooling journey I now see that unschooling is where we are all happiest and the children are learning the most.

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They are learning in their own ways; we do not need to tell them what to learn or coerce them, and I now trust with all my being that they will learn what they need to as they need to because they are self driven individuals whom know their own desires better than anyone else.

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We will support and encourage their interests and learning in all ways that are within our means,

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continuing this journey we began as a family nearly eight years ago with love and understanding.

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I spoke to the children about unschooling before writing this, and we discussed how learning is not something that happens at school from the ages of five to seventeen; it is life long. And Anusha asked me, “What are you going to learn this year mummy?” It made me smile and feel so excited as I talked about what I want to learn this year,

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And thought about how the children are sharing in and experiencing my, and Scott’s, love of learning.
What could be better than learning together as a family….

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embracing each tide and every wave.

Stevenson’s Falls

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Last week we went for a wander to the falls where we are currently camped; Stevenson’s falls, about 30 km inland from Apollo bay.

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The trail led us alongside the creek, through wet native forest, distant plantation, wild blackberries, and the occasional fungi.

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Anusha finding it hard not to constantly stop to pick and munch blackberries, and the forest providing a veritable smorgasbord for Elki’s imagination; after not long we found ourselves at the day use area and crossed the creek.

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The cool water called but we continued on, the children venturing onto the rocky paths winding along the creek.

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Hopping from rock to rock Elki and Anusha made their way to the waterfall as Scott, a sleeping Zubin, and I strolled alongside on the path.

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Before long the easy peaceful trail led us to the beautiful falls.

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A welcoming, refreshing, and cooling sight.

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Elki immediately climbed down to the bottom of the falls,

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exploring the surrounding rocks, small caves, and pools.

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Anusha shortly ventured down too,

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And then Scott and Laska followed,

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Whilst a now awake Zubin, and I, observed and breathed in the beauty from the lookout.

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I love to watch my family delight in nature’s wonders,

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And capture our time together in these special places.

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On our return walk I rock hopped with the children along the creek whilst Scott strolled back with Zubin.

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We met at the day use area and the children and I cooled our feet in the water before walking the remaining stretch. Anusha, with a sore foot, was carried by Scott and they picked the highest berries, previously out of reach!

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Elki led the way, and I found him resting and reading under the shade of a pine in our camp upon my return.

What a day at camp looks like….

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The morning started with Zubin waking first and Scott and I rising for our morning cuppa’s.

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The children ventured out later after spending some time in the tent; playing Lego together, Elki reading (finishing the third book of the second R.A Salvatore trilogy he has recently been reading), and Anusha drawing.

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After breakfast Scott and Anusha picked blackberries for making jam; I began some sewing that needed completing,

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and then Elki and Anusha played a fantasy card game; Magic, The Gathering.

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Whilst Scott started to prepare lunch the children walked down to the rope swing.

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I followed after a while spending time watching their tricks and giving some big pushes.

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Zubin explored, played, and watched his brother and sister.

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Often we spend time observing the local birds; I captured this sweet fella and Zubin and I watched a little tribe of Superb Fairy Wrens flitting around looking for food.

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Scott lit the campfire; Elki taking some time to read by the warmth,

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And then we all helped make tofu and vegetable kebabs,

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Which were cooked on the fire BBQ for lunch.

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Following lunch Zubin had his second nap for the day, snuggled close to me,

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And upon waking chewed on an apple Scott picked from an apple tree, whilst watching his Dadda cut firewood.

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The children spent some down time playing games in the tent,

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And I finished my sewing.

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While Scott and Anusha made pancakes for dinner, Elki drew,

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And then the children washed dishes and we tried the fresh blackberry jam on our pancakes.

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The children headed into the tent, Anusha drawing some more, and I followed shortly behind with Zubin.

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And the evening drew to a close in the usual way; with bedtime stories from me and then Scott. 😴

Of course our days at camp vary; a card game could be a family board game or an outside game, swinging could be playing in a playground or an imaginary adventure, drawing could be writing about something important to the children, starting a story, creating something with their hands, or looking up something they want to find out more about, down time on their phone and tablet could be checking their instagram account or skyping a friend.

There is contstants though; we are always cooking together, the work of upkeeping our camp is shared, play, play, play, reading together and on our own, caring for our beautiful baby together, Lego usually appears at some point, as does drawing, lots and lots of conversation, laughter, time when no conversation is needed, usually some silliness and loudness, loads of cuddles, kissing the baby a thousand times, working through disagreements and problems, and spending a lot of our day in and with our natural surroundings.

The 12 Apostles and Gibson Steps

On our way from Dartmoor to our camp, Stevenson’s falls, we drove inland from Warrnambool to shorten the drive.

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So, on Tuesday we took a day trip to the 12 Apostles and Gibson steps.

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Even though I have been to the 12 Apostles before; when Elki was four and Anusha a baby, and when I was younger with my parents, I still found them awe inspiring.

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The majestic stone formations standing against the battering of the powerful sea, as it sends it’s rolling arcs in from (as Elki named it in his fantastical imaginative musings) the Everwater, is wild and beautiful.

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It was a cool and windy day, so we rugged up, feeling the fresh sea breeze blow on our faces and in our hair.

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We stopped at each of the lookouts to see the different perspectives.

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Scott and Anusha went on ahead,

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And Elki, Zubin and I followed.

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To the east we looked out on the beach at Gibson steps.

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After we returned from the apostles there was promised icy poles, and coffees for Scott and I, as we began the walk to Gibson steps.

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Zubin perched on Scott’s shoulders; his favourite walking position.

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We wound between the coastal vegetation,

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And down the cliff hugging steps.

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Initially Anusha was very fearful and intimidated by the rugged and rolling waves. We talked about the ocean being part of mother earth, in all her power and beauty. This did not completely reassure her but then Elki showed her the sandstone cliffs, which look soft as sand but are so very hard!

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We also talked about the birds that make the beach their home; nesting in the cliff faces and relying on the coastline. Anusha found bird tracks in the sand (she is very interested in animal tracks) and started to follow them.

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Zubin played on the sand and explored along the cliff face,

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And I went down to the shoreline, pulled by the wild energy of the sea.

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The children followed, Anusha now more confident,

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And they played chase with the waves.

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I felt so energised by the rugged wildness of the ocean,

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I could have stayed for hours!

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We played and walked, and got wet by surprise! So, Scott went and got the car for us ❤ and we went home. Stopping for snacks and filling our bellies with a warm BBQ.

A not so flowing day…..

I know I love and really appreciate when days flow smoothly; when everything seems to piece together in a way that fits perfectly (well mostly)…..
Today wasn’t one of those days, at least it certainly began with many pieces out of place!
A couple of things happened that really shouldn’t have been too big for us to handle, but there was overreactions, some anger, insensitivenes, and impatience…….
A planned morning of a picnic of Quinoa patties cooked on the BBQ with salad, at a playground next to Valley lake, started out very disjointed and rather disappointingly……
But in those times of heated words, misunderstandings, and rash communication we always come back to our centre; our core; our family; our love for each other, and appreciation as beings of Earth how very blessed we are!
Breaths are taken and we see each other for the imperfect people that we are. And love our imperfections and everything that makes us such wonderful, crazy, individual, sometimes infuriating, deeply caring, possibly very irrational (😜), loving people.
So, we attempted to look at the day anew and I think we did OK.
The children began to work and play together. Very important work; mining and building a sand pile,

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Zubin played; his version of work,

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And then we decided together to go to the Umpherston Sinkhole. A garden grown in an amazing sunken cave. I think just what we needed.

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A place of beauty and wonder, and restoration for the spirit. And an amazing geographical occurrence. Elki said it was probably the place he has loved the most; it was a seed for the children’s imaginations to flower.
Afterwards we made our way back to camp; for breathing out, dinner and dessert. Anusha made us a peach and plum pudding, and as we lay down in bed for stories she dreamily said, ‘I love how warm pudding feels in your belly at bedtime’.
I think the day ended OK. There were some frantic, not so calm moments in our afternoon and evening but we realised that we were all tired and in need of an early night to bed 😴 I look forward to tomorrow with loving, patient, whole body intention ❤