2014 in review of Sandy Toes & Dusty Boots

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thank you all for your readership and for your support. 2015 will see plenty of content in

  • Tonnes of tavel and touring by road around Australia as we make our trip back West to live.
  • Natural learning ponderings.
  • The continuation of journal 52 pages.
  • Craft Wrap will be back in full swing as of next week…

and a few other surprises including some weekly fun for you ๐Ÿ˜‰ hopefully 2015 is going to be lots of fun, catchya all next year, ‘ave a good ‘un ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 780 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Journal 52 – week 52 circles

I gave myself the creative constraint of circles when I started this project, you see them everywhere, in nature, in man made structures, circles are the base of almost everything so I figured this would be the easiest prompt ever… nope… being down one constraint was harder. I had this amazing idea of painting (yeah, me and paint are not friends) an aborigional style dot painting with the back of a pencil and the back of a paintbrush. It was all in my head and looked kinda neat. I had envisioned sharing (with the mostly not aussie group online) and recording the dreamtime story of the Glasshouse Mountains, (an old but striking volcanic range near my home on the sunshine coast in Queensland, Australia) in my own journal before we headed back west using the inspiration from local walking trails and the topographic maps of the area (enter circles). My first attempt at putting paint to paper looked kinda like umm… a bumpy bit of mud… would have made great camo paper.

Having my own art not look like how it looks in my head is a new concept to me… I’m not a fan. It kinda put me in a bad mood. I fixed said bad mood by ripping out that page, throwing it across the room, dumping my journal in my craft box and madly crocheting till my hands got a cramp a whole skein of yarn later… I’m a sore loser.

Second attempt was only slightly less infuriating. I dumped the style I was going for and tried to focus on the content without all the detailed me + paint thing. Discovered pens actually run out if you use them for a whole background of tiny water-like circles, who knew? Managed to find something similar to finish it with only to have the same problem happen on the other half of the page. I was kinda going for the juxtaposed ideas of dreamtime story vs the touristy, classy thing going on with the places that have views of this mountain range but even with all that very meta kinda fancyness to my idea. It just didn’t make sense. Here is my half finished second attempt.


So here I was at attempt three four days later and quite frustrated with the whole thing. Not something that normally happens. However, I’m stubborn and I like art journaling so gotta try again. This time I ditched my expectations of super complicatedness and just hung out with my middle kiddo and her art stash for the morning. She always makes art look so free, just playing and having fun with colours on the page. She likes the end pictures but it is so much about the process for her, eight year olds are very clever like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just after Christmas with a new art journal and some brand new watercolour pencils in front of her, she plays at the kitchen table with art, humming or whistling random movie tunes and parading around in dress ups, I’m watching with my own journal in front of me open to a blank page. Wee miss K is darting around in dress-ups also chatting to herself and randomly combining toys like mathomats and peg boards. It’s very girly here, daddy is only occasionally in the room and the lad is away on a sleepover. Just me and my girls. I had another circle thought whilst chatting earlier in the morning to daddy, it was dancers from the top or a ferris wheel with the idea being more about the circular motion than actual circles but I wasn’t sure how to create it, the picture in my head was hazy at best. Then the universe punched me in the face. Middle miss started humming that excessively repeated song in our house…. I’ll let you guess which one it was…


She was right you know, kids are way smarter than grown ups. So I just stared sketching, had no bloody idea what it would look like at the end which is super scary as I basically copy whatever image pops into my head normally but without that mind pic what was I even doing. As I watched middle miss create with this new medium it was clear she was still learning how to manipulate it. We’ve never had watercolour pencils before. She’s not brilliant at it yet but you can see she’s trying to figure it out and that it totally didn’t matter how things looked along the way. She was experimenting, exploring and playing on the page. I wanna be able to do that!

Morning went on and wee miss K wanted to play with my hair putting in tiny pony tails as I worked on this unknown page. I let her do her thing when normally that would bother me (I generally journal while she’s already asleep or is engrossed in something else).


Middle miss went on to other things and eventually I came up with this


It’s the closest you will get me to painting. It’s not perfect, it’s not some preconceived vision, it’s just playing on a page. I think adults learn a lot from playing too so that’s going to be my inspiration for journal 52 2015.


I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and a happy new year, thanks for reading
From Becca.

Accommodation in State Forest Australia (Nationwide)

Here is some useful information and websites if you are planing to travel and camp in state forests around Australia with fur kids and human ones.
Dogs in national parks are banned country-wide (including in a vehicle passing through).
Some states have fees and bookingsย on unpowered sites, (generally these are appropriate for tents, a few for off grid caravans). Others are on a first come first serve basis, most camp areas have eco toilets, it is advisable to bring your own drinking water and adhere to the take in take out policy as most state forests do not provide bins to campsites. Check with each state forest authority with regards to campfire regulations and conditions.

Dogs are permitted in some state forests on a leash.
Camping in Qld has a fee of $161/week or $23/night for a family group (2 adults and up to 8 children).
Sites are prebooked and paid for online here.

All state forests in NSW are dog friendly and free to camp, there are no prebookings available.

Camping is generally free in state forest.
Dogs allowed in some, must be kept on leash at all times.

Dogs are permitted in state forest reserves in SA provided they are under control at all times.
Camping permits are $10/5ppl/night or $20/family/week.
A vehicle access permit for $20 may also be required.
More information can be found here.
“For permits in the Green Triangle, contact ForestrySA during office hours on (08) 87 242 888.
For permits in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid North, please use the self-issue and payment facilities
located outside ForestrySAโ€™s Mount Crawford, Kuitpo and Wirrabara offices.”

No access for dogs to state forests and bookings are online.
More info can be found here. http://parkstay.dpaw.wa.gov.au/

Green Tree Snake Adventures (Dendrelaphis Punctulata)

Stupid cat just caught this poor lil guy in our backyard. Thankfully he didn’t seem injured. Due to Kiall’s quick ID (who has been on the lookout for this species for a while) he was scooped up and we all got a closer look before letting him go back to the tree tops (sans cat outside!)ย  These guys rarely if ever bite and are not venomous so it was safe to handle him.


Anyone who knows my middle child gets that she absolutely adores snakes. She was just as stoked as daddy to handle this little guy who didn’t want to let go when it was time to say see ya later. ๐Ÿ™‚


I’m very grateful to Kiall and his quick identification skills, the kids would have missed this learning opportunity if it wasn’t for that. Go daddy ๐Ÿ™‚

Journal 52- week 51 Sing a Song

Was a tough call to make between Pippin’s walking song that has been in my head all week from Lord of the Rings and the beautiful music of the Studio Ghibli movies.

Anime wins. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Don’t know how many of you know about Studio Ghibli and Miazaki’s anime works but Pazu’s trumpet solo from Castle in the Sky called Morning in the Slag Ravine was my choice for the sing a song prompt. It’s my fave piece of music and it was also my wedding song so has special meaning in that way for me. To inspire the page I listened to a bunch of other ghibli music by Joe Hisaishi and couldn’t stick to one song lol so here is the double page pencil and marker I ended up with.ย 


The process above and the final scanned journal below. The spelling error is just to show it is hand made ๐Ÿ˜‰ Promise this is the only time I will rant about anime.


Gotta say it was challenging and fun and our blue pencil is now half the height it started as.

Subtleties of the unschooling mindset – (part 3) Labels

Labels create expectations beyond natural human capacity. They exist in the world of perfect. In the club of if I obey these rules I can put on that labels and embody it. Be proud of it. Flaunt it and judge others by it. Exclude because of it. All manner of elitist attitudes stem from labels. As you can probably guess, it causes some problems, one of which is burnout.

One experiences burnout when they tried and failed to meet unrealistic expectations. The catch is that the unrealistic part is different for everyone.ย  Burnout shows there is something out of balance, your conscious isn’t settled. It’s not natural to experience burnout over parenting. Over commitments elsewhere, particularly for time, yes, but not parenting.ย  It’s probably the most natural thing we do. Guilt over parenting is the same. Who but yourself is applying unattainable standards, prophetic internet no-faces? You can’t logically feel guilty if you are doing what you are actually capeable of, it’s what you can do at any particular point in time, nothing more or less within the circumstances. It’s not practical to hold ones self to external standards of someone else’s label of ‘good’ parenting who knows nothing of your situation. Or worse, attempt to hold yourself to the standards of parental playground judgement amongst each other over which way is the right way, that has changed every decade and guarenteed it will do so again with the next fad label.

Practical, logical parenting dictates that every situation needs to be considered seperately. Differing personalities even within the same relationship over time, differing circumstance in and outside of one’s control etc. These are the only things one can use as a parent to determine an appropriate course of action. No one parenting style rules apply across the board. No one else knows your situation and your capabilities better than you so guilt is useless self imposed emotion. Perhaps you feel guilty towards your child, for not putting your best foot forward? Then change, don’t feel a useless emotion, just do better next time, get on with it. Trust me, you being human will help your kids feel it’s ok to be what we actually are, we don’t belong in the world of perfect so stop pretending that it even exists for our species. You are the only one who can look at your expectations with the understanding that we are imperfect and beautiful messes of creatures. You are the only one who can see how useless guilt and these counter productive perfect labels are.

Please just do what you do, think lots on things, apply what works, dismiss what doesn’t and go from there. People get way too caught up in labels and rules. They really are pretty useless when trying to categorize such an intellectually varied species as humans much less in one of our most complex relationships.

(Part 1) Coercion vs Suggestion
(Part 2) Personal Voice

Subtleties of the unschooling mindset – (part 2) Personal Voice

Many may disagree with my stance on this particular mindset shift but I am one to believe in personal voice as far as that concept can be utilized. I wait and see before jumping into sibling debate. I don’t readily interfere with playground tiffs unless it is clear someone is being hurt, (then I will mediate between the two parties rather than solve the problem for them.) That and modeling healthy debate is the extent of my responsibility. I let my children work through things using their own voice as far as it is possible. This may sound hands off, neglectful or permissive to some, that’s ok, each their own. I feel differently, particularly as a child grows older, wiser and more mature.

Children resort to undesireable behaviour when they feel they are not truly heard, they do not require a heavy hand of discipline, they require personal voice encouragement and an active listening participant who was involved in the disagreement. To me it is trust in children’s voice to express their opinion clearly to others and opportunity to practice the fine art of debate without my adult (who is removed from the actual situation) opinions interference. I’m close, I’m listening, I can mediate if that is their desire and I will even use this experience later to discuss the finer points of disagreement solutions with my child.

Mutual truce (when a solution cannot be reached due to external influence) and mutual agreement are playground skills that will help children make better decisions as adults. It is an exercise in empathy. Actively listening out for the needs of others, knowing and expressing ones own needs and creatively incorporating them into a workable solution for all involved is something many adults can’t even accomplish. One group of people can though, these are the entrepreneurs. Individuals capeable of creating empathic need and want solutions for groups of people beyond those that satisfy their immediate needs.

Entrepreneurs are also people who succeed in some way that is important to them and their success is worthy of admiration from others in some way. Here’s the catch though, no one succeeds alone. Others help, sometimes in not so obvious ways. Having the charisma to meet others needs as well as your own and succeed comes from those playground negotiation skills and decades of active practice. Removing the opportunity to hone those skills does the child a disservice. They learn instead to rely on others to create solutions or simply forsake their own needs in place of another’s to keep the peace, a perfect reflection of the adult fear of offence. Children are not born distrusting their voice. They start off throwing tantrums in public and asking fat people all the time if they are having a babies, there’s no fear of offence. Then slowly they move away from their inner voice they tattle tale on other kids or lie to get out of trouble. During the teenage years and beyond they self harm either physically or via self imposed mental sabotage because they distrust their own voice so much that they feel as though they don’t even hear themselves let alone anyone else hearing them… That distrust comes from roots of modeled fear of offence and the denial of learning opportunity and personal voice.

(Part 1) Coercion vs Suggestion
(Part 3) Labels

Subtleties of the unschooling mindset – (part 1) Coercion vs Suggestion

A short series of ramblee musings that I’ll build on as I think of them, cause I’m vague like that ;). Some of these we are total ninja like experts at others we fail miserably though inevitably we get up, dust off and keep trying.

(Part 1) Coercion vs Suggestion

Coercion has the end goal of doing as one says via manipulation into accepting reward and it’s false perceived value. It is power struggle based and arbitrary in the message it creates. It ideally ends in one party being deceived by another though as more knowledge is gained, it becomes more difficult to enact. Trust is damaged by coercion.

Suggestion is autonomous. It has the goal of the receiving party doing what they know makes sense. Its main component therefore is the transferance of practical knowledge. In essence, practicing what one preaches and modeling success in a task to reinforce the ‘why’. It’s purpose is to encourage one of less knowledge to recognize an alternate course of action that works for others already. It ends in either understanding and logical action or logical consequence. This personal consequence can be a self regulator of further related actions. The opportunity to fail is accepted as part of the learning process. Trust is not damaged by suggestion.

(Part 2) Personal Voice
(Part 3) Labels

Sylvanian families/Calico critters DIY – Crochet adult dress

Dress is made from the shoulder working down to the feet with crochet cotton twine (I havent pulled one apart yet so dont know how much twine is needed but it aint much,) and a size 3mm crochet hook. Please do forgive me for the format as I have never written a crochet pattern before.

Row 1: 19 chain stitch.

Row 2: 19 single stitch in all chains.

Row 3: 3 single stitch in previous row, 4 chain stitch, 4 single stitch with a 5 stich gap from previous row, 4 chain stitch, 3 single stitch in previous row with a 5 stitch gap. (Total of 17 stitches) and one join into round.

Round 4, 5 & 6: 2 chain stitch, 1 double in first stitch of previous row, 1 double in each stitch of previous row x2. Then continue the 2x 1x 1x double stitch around in previous rows for all three rows, (offset the 2 double every round by one stitch to make it fan evenly).

Round 7: 3 chain joined to every second stitch in previous row. Finish with sewing on a bead for decoration. ๐Ÿ™‚

image Note the tails are just pushed between posts in the double crochet section or left under the dress. I have also left the back of the torso open for easy on and off for a three year old but you could just as easy add a press button, sew on a strip of elastic or add some velcro. It doesn’t need it though.

If anyone would like me to make one or a few for them please do contact me, happy to sell for (AUD) $2 each in whatever colour plus postage via Australia post. Otherwise… get to making! ๐Ÿ™‚