Friday, May 15, 2015

Exciting news!

Look what arrived this week! The latest Ella and Olivia book - Hair Disasters! It comes with a set of 'real' hair clips. Just wait until you see why Ella needs them!! This is my advance copy, so they are not released until next month. I have also just signed on for more books in this series, so we can all look forward to more fun adventures with Ella and Olivia! 

On the Ella Diaries front we have some more exciting news! It looks like an international publisher is interested in publishing this series, so we could see some foreign language Ella Diaries soon! 

That's enough excitement for now! Enjoy your weekend! x

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our Home Schooling Play Room!

I have finally managed to check out some of the videos in this e-course for home schooling (Alicia Hutchinson - Learning well. An essential guide to home schooling.) I must say that I am really enjoying it. 

Ok, so a lot of it is common sense and I appreciate that everyone will find their own methods and approaches to suit their families, but it's just so nice to hear from such like minded people. 

We have barely begun our journey and we have already been met with so many mixed reactions about our decision. But you know what? The fear I initially felt is completely gone. I am excited and I love that we are doing something so different from the 'norm.' It just feels right. 

There is a lot of material to get through in the course, but I could not resist skipping ahead a bit to check out a couple of the videos on peoples home schooling classrooms! It's like peeking into an artists studio! So it's inspired me to finally share a peek at our playroom/classroom. 


Once I realised we were serious about the home schooling thing, it shifted a few priorities for me. I have always seen my work space as the most important area in the house. Therefore, it seemed only fair that my studio take up the largest room in the house. Now I realise what a waste of space that really is. It's not like I am doing large scale paintings or anything. I could actually get away with a desk in the corner of the room. 

AFTER: (Sorry it's not exactly the same angle!)

So, we shuffled things around AGAIN and the girls now have their very own play room! I am reluctant to call it a classroom as it sounds too school orientated!

The room is such a hit already! We use it so much and I can't believe we have not done this earlier. Naturally, we still need a few things (like curtains!!) but I am sure this space will grow and evolve along with our needs.

Also, the local home schooling get together we went along to last week was great. We felt really comfortable and I hope it's something we can participate in regularly. We will still keep up with the Canberra group as they have some really interesting activities, so it's great to have choices! Yay!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Home schooling and farm life.

Proof that little fairies really do live at the bottom of the garden! Aren't they the most delightful little mushrooms?! We have little villages of them popping up everywhere at the moment and they always make me smile.

We also have some new additions to the farm! Look! Our first lambs! 

And there's more to come. It's so exciting. These are the first of our animals to have babies, so we are very proud. We should be getting some calves in the next month or so too. life. This is why we left the city!

We have also been busy:

Making MUD PIES...

Making a SIGN for our new play room: (more on that another day!)

Rearranging the house:
(We now have our own dedicated space to playing and learning, but more on that another day!)

Playing around with making our own crystals:

We saw this one here on Pinterest and we have always wanted to try it! And it's edible! It's an exercise in patience if nothing else!!

I have also signed up for this on-line course on home schooling, but our internet access has slowed to an all-time low at the moment (one of the joys of country living!) so I have not really been able to participate! Arrgh! 

The home schooling blogging world is still very new to me so I don’t really ‘know’ any of the teachers in the course, but it’s just nice to see a bit of an insight into how some families have approached things. I hope we can get some more Australian content happening one day.

Today we are off on a new adventure. There is a local home schooling group starting up regular meetings and today is our first time attending. We won’t know anyone there so it’s always a bit daunting stepping out of my comfort zone, but I know we need to do this. There is a wonderful support group that meets in Canberra, but that’s still an hour away for us. It would be great to get to know some local families who are on this journey too.

Wish us luck! x

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ella Diaries NEW RELEASE - MAY 2015

Introducing the latest book in the Ella Diaries series. I love the colours in this cover artwork and I had such a great time drawing some crazy animal antics for the inside pages! Yet another GEM in this wonderful series.

It's released next month so keep a look out!

I spotted this in our local library last week! It always makes me smile to see my books out in the 'real world'! It makes me feel like a 'real' illustrator! Maybe one day I will accept that I really am living my dream!

In the meantime, I am currently finishing up the internal artwork for Book #4 in this series, and the cover artwork for Book #5! Busy, busy!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Did you know I am more than just an Illustrator?

I have just realised that I don't really share much more than my work life here.
I guess that's a bit boring now that I reflect on it. 

I am also a full time Mum....and we live on a gorgeous farm! 

I think it's time to get a bit more of an insight into life beyond illustration, inspired by a walk I took with my girls yesterday.

We each had our own cameras and the golden light of late afternoon created some beautiful imagery.

If you scroll down to the bottom you will see some lovely images captured by my girls!

Through the eyes of my girls...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New and unexpected directions

I have been hinting about things on the home front taking a new and unexpected direction and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this one. 

Our eldest daughter started Preschool this term for a couple of days a week and it was a struggle for all of us. She became anxious and sad. I could not help but feel that her spirit had somehow been broken. After about 4 or 5 weeks we decided that enough was enough and with-drew her from the system. This is an over-simplified version of events as there were many factors involved in our decision, but the end result is that it has taken some time, but we now have our happy little girl back.

I have spoken with lots of parents who have had similar experiences with those first few weeks and everyone assured me that we would ‘get over it,’ and it was ‘just something we all had to do.’ Some even told me how their kids were physically sick with anxiety about attending Preschool, or that they had cried for most of the first year, but that they eventually ‘got over it.’

Maybe that's true, but all I know is that this just didn't feel right for US. We could not continue down that path any longer.

So, where does that leave us? What next? What other choices do we have?

The interesting part about this experience is that it has made us take a long hard look at the type of education we want for our children. I feel that we did not REALLY think about this until we experienced those few weeks of Preschool. We just automatically enrolled our child in Preschool because that’s what you do when your child reaches that age. Preschool prepares your child for the full-time requirements of our school system.

But what is the alternative? Our research uncovered a ‘road less traveled’ if we had the courage to travel it.

I can’t believe I am saying this as I NEVER, EVER imagined this path for us, but we are seriously considering home schooling. Ok, I need to have the courage to say this:
We ARE going to home school our kids.

In some countries this may be no big deal, but this is quite unusual in Australia and I don’t know anyone else who has taken this path. But the more we look into it and the more we research, the more we realise that this is just what our family needs. Maybe not yours - but ours.

I could write a novel on the emotional roller coaster we have all been on for these last few weeks, and the hidden stereotypes and biases that we have uncovered along the way (including our own), but now that we have made the decision I am actually really excited.

It already feels life-changing and liberating! I look at everything in a new way now. We are still in research mode and have uncovered some wonderful resources, families and support groups in the area who are already on this journey. Did you know home schooling can be so much more than just ‘schooling at home'?! There are so many different approaches and philosophies on how to educate children and it’s opened our eyes to a whole new world. It feels so right for us that I can’t believe we did not consider this before.

It’s also changed my night time reading choices! There is so much to learn!!

Of course I still plan to continue my illustration and design work, so some things won’t change, but it’s going to be busy, busy, busy around here!! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Crafty Easter!

I actually managed to find some time to start my craft project over the Easter break. I have not done any hand sewing or embroidery since my school days so it was great to have my Mum's expertise to help get me started. It's not the neatest, but I have started! I am just trying not to think about how long it will take me to finish it!!