Talking openly about mental health isn't the easy choice, but it is the right one.

Thoughts about Mental Health (now that’s ironic)

While at my cutting table, preparing some new stock (‘hooray’ I hear some say, ‘finally’ say others) I have been reflecting on two different conversations that I have had in the past week, and how I have responded, reacted and considered the issues raised.

The first was a conversation with a friend last week who was complaining about his ex-wife and in the midst of the conversation said ‘And you know she is still on antidepressants.’  This took me aback and I blurted out ‘But so am I.’   (He has known me for a long time and we have discussed my medication on several occasions.)  He responded “But you are pretty high functioning, and able to operate at a senior management level” as if this somehow meant that I didn’t need to be on anti-depressant medication.

My response was that people of all walks of life, with all sorts of ability take antidepressants.  This does not mean that they are not capable, not able to function, not ‘sane’ (which was the underlying message about his ex-wife of course).  It really got me thinking about how so much of society sees that medication for mental health is somehow not a good idea, or a sign of weakness, or a sign of an unstable character.

Talking openly about mental health isn't the easy choice, but it is the right one.

Talking openly about mental health isn’t the easy choice, but it is the right one.

Then yesterday I received a communication from my ex-husband who suggested that our son may have an auditory processing disorder, and that I should research this, as it can often be mistaken for ADHD (which our son is diagnosed with, along with other mental health issues.)  Now apart from the fact that I already have an independent psychological assessment report that states that our son has processing difficulties (that has been provided to his father) it made me realise that because our son’s condition is being treated so effectively with medication, (after years of trial and error with everything from naturopaths, chiropractors, diet, exercise, behavioural management strategies etc – so please don’t offer me new alternatives to medication) his father now thinks that he doesn’t have the very issue that he is being medicated for.

While my initial reaction might have been anger at yet another challenge to the professional advice that I have sought and questioned and administered over the last 4 years, it occurred to me a little later on that perhaps the two conversations had something in common.

Neither of these men would suggest that a person prescribed medication to address a heart condition should not take it.  Neither would they consider offering their own diagnosis on what the ‘actual’ problem was.  They wouldn’t suggest that this person wasn’t fit and proper to carry out their job based on their use of prescription medication.  But when it is a mental health issue, they were both happy to judge, to re-diagnose, to second guess and to ignore the effects of medication as treating a medical condition.

None of this is new I suppose.  It just saddens me that despite education, information, and open conversations, people still can’t see past their prejudice about mental health to look at the evidence sitting in front of them.   I don’t have any answers to how to solve this, but I am comfortable with my resolve to talk about my experiences with my own mental health and that of my children (where appropriate) to remind people that depression and anxiety can affect anyone from any walk of life, and is treatable.  Maybe it will help someone else to understand that it is simply another medical condition. Nothing more, nothing less.

And now I return to cutting out fabric.  Happy days!

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Finding time

I have been reflecting over the last week on what it is that I am doing with my time!  When I worked full time I seemed to have more time to sew, to blog, etc. Now that I am self-employed I seem to be running in circles all the time.  I am not sitting idle, and am not spending hours surfing the internet, yet I seem to not get to the things that I want to do.  This was frustrating me for quite a while, until I realised that the things that I have added in to my days are the very reasons that I am no longer working full time.

Over the last few years I have had to shift my priorities.  I have had to change my parenting style. I have re-invented our day to day life.  (Not just once!).  The reason that I have less time available to sew, or blog, or return phone calls, or pay bills (oops!) is because I am more present in my children’s lives.  I am still not engaged at the level that I could be, and am certainly not a saint (heaven forbid) but I have come to realise that by spending more time putting the children first our life is better.  Now when my boy is starting to get angry and lash out I can normally pin point the cause within a few minutes.  I can usually remember the strategies that will help him to calm down without escalation.  (Usually.  Definitely not always.)   When my artist-in-residence is collapsing in a ball of spiky frustration I can see where it has come from and help her to unravel and calm down.  (Sometimes).  And when my eldest chick is having completely out of character episodes of appalling behaviour I have no idea.  Until I empty her rubbish bin and realise that she has been sneaking her little brother’s snacks – full of gluten – and her body is attacking itself.

Much easier to be kind to myself when I think about what we have dealt with each day and how we have resolved it!

I have had a couple of great moments this week that I wanted to share.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to see Mary Poppins, the musical, being produced by the Free Rain Theatre Company at the Canberra Theatre.  (One of the amazing up-sides of the Human Brochure experience has been invitations to so many wonderful events!)  I took the artist-in-residence and we absolutely loved it!  It was, to quote Mary herself, ‘practically perfect, in every way’. We even had a chance to have our photos taken with some of the cast afterwards!

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The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.

This weekend just past was also very special.  The Handmade Markets were on, in a new location here in Canberra.  I am still not at the point where I am ready to return to having my own stall, but I love my role in the background of the markets, which allows me to interact with all the market designers on an individual level.  The exposure to so many talented people is a true delight.  Even better, I was able to take the children with me and when we stopped to talk to different stallholders the children had the chance to interact with them too.  They got to taste beautifully handcrafted chocolate (thanks Cicada chocolate!), to receive hugs and rainbow roses from GG’s flowers (special hug thanks to Gayana), and the artist-in-residence was able to talk to different artists about their work and her own art.  Mick from Leafy Sea Dragon presented her with one of his cards depicting one of his own artworks as an encouragement to another artist.  She was thrilled!

The eldest chick and her two friends ran their own business throughout the markets, providing stall holder support.  They were exhausted but very happy and very proud at the end of the weekend.  This band of 12-year-old young women are learning about money management, customer service, hard work, planning, and innovation at a young age and I could not be prouder of them!!

I also managed to sneak myself a treat on Friday night.  I had an hour to fill between finishing helping with the market set up, and when I was to collect the children from their father’s house.  I thought about ringing friends etc but decided to take myself into town for a meal on my own.  We have an area here called ‘The Hamlet’ which is where the gourmet food vans park, and various funky shops are tucked away.  I went to the Mr Papa van – Peruvian Street Food.  Oh my goodness.

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The burger made with slow cooked pork belly, sweet potato, and a very tasty sauce and salsa combo is heavenly!   I then followed it up with a little trip to the Frugii Dessert Laboratory where the ice-cream alchemist creates beautiful ice-creams, and desserts!  (The owners are also delightful people!)

017b44bb4b29c63f9f742e0e02f00cabd99df22e73I had the choux pastry with hazelnut cream, and blood orange syrup.  And even better – I had time to sit and enjoy and just have time to myself.  Talk about bliss!

Baby set |a little bird made me

A custom order set for a baby overseas

After all this inspiration my plan was to sew, design, and create all week.  Hmmmm…… the best laid plans!  Between routine medical appointments, school meetings, housework, and general family commitments, I have managed only a very small amount of sewing.

Ipad case and accessories |a little bird made me

An ipad case, coin purse and key fob for a birthday girl in Melbourne.

The good news though is that I have created some new pattern templates, which is speeding up my process a lot.  (Instead of measuring and cutting each piece I am now using a template to cut each piece – such a simple thing but one I just hadn’t done!!)  I also finally made a key ring fob – something on my ‘to do’ list for a long time.  I like it!  Maybe I should make some more…..    where is that ‘to-do’ list again?

Our farm |a little bird made me

Wandering on the farm is a delightful pastime

Dam | a little bird made me

The dam is the source of much entertainment – and home to some venomous snakes!

Farm life |a little bird made me

I love the skies out here!

I did spend time with my boy down at our dam finding rocks, sticks and long grasses to try and create ‘survival tools’ like spears and knives.  We haven’t been particularly successful yet but we have had a lot of fun trying!

And I indulged in some fabric shopping – with no particular project in mind!  It is just so lush!  The new range from Skinny la Minx, via Hawthorne Threads.  Drool.

01336619eb5f8a927b88032198547f2c2f9f3620e1Now to decide what to do with it!  Choices, choices, choices!

I hope that you have been able to find time for yourself in your week too.

 

 

Autumn

We are settling in well here on the farm.  We have grown our chicken flock by 4 with the addition of some Araucuna hens – and they lay green eggs!  Green, white and brown eggs

The Dr Seuss references abound as you can imagine!  One of the hens has been named Sam-I-Am, while another is Yertle the Turtle.  Then we divert into random chicken names like Fiona and Big Bertha.  Dad continues to work on perfecting their coop and run and we all love just watching them as they scurry around negotiating their larger group.  The ‘pecking order’ is alive and well!

With time has also come room to start sewing again.  What a joy!  I am taking it slowly, and focussing on building up stocks in the Shop Handmade, and filling some gaps in their stock, so have expanded my range of baby goods a bit, and am not back to bag making just yet.

New products for my range - Reversible baby blankets - flannel one side and cotton the other!

New products for my range – Reversible baby blankets – flannel one side and cotton the other!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel - this one was hard to put in the shop!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel – this one was hard to put in the shop!

 

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

I am also working on some concepts of  re-branding.  The break away from blogging and sewing has given me time to reflect on where I want to take this little adventure I call my business, so stand by for a bit more movement over the next few months!  Now that I have a studio set up it is easier to think about moving forward again.

My sewing studio.  Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint - well the decor generally - but the space is awesome!!

My sewing studio. Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint – well the decor generally – but the space is awesome!!

I have been focussing on my own health a bit more over the last couple of months.  For the first time in my living memory I have lost weight, and kept it off, and passed that magic weight point that has alluded me for over 20 years.  You know that point where you diet, get down to a certain weight, but just can’t get below that, even though you have plenty of excess ‘body’ that could go?  I actually beat it!  Even better, I am feeling healthy and energised.  I did it using a product system that my sister is selling – I was extremely sceptical at first but have been converted.  Now to get the exercise happening a bit more regularly (my never-ending battle!)

What else have I been up to?  A quick trip to Queensland to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday.  It was a great weekend full of colour, laughs, great music and shared stories.  The interesting thing is that these are people I met a couple of years ago, by chance, at a Bluesfest.  We just clicked, and have become fast friends ever since.  The people I met at their house and the party were all just like them – warm, generous of spirit and amusing.  One of the guests said that ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and this is so true when I think of this family!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

With more headspace, and time to start designing again comes a return to fabric buying, researching, and coming up with ideas.  Look out – the grey matter is ticking away coming up with all sorts of ideas here!  I am even contemplating making something for myself.  I know!  Wonders will never cease!  But in the meantime here is an awesome free printable for pop-up hot air balloons that I found on the wonderful site Design is Yay, by the delightful Wita.  (That is my favourite sort of researching – finding cool things to share!!)

Our weather is just starting to turn cool, so I am even contemplating crochet again.  That change of seasons is always enough to kick me into gear!  I have been happily pinning ideas on Pinterest (so addictive but such a good way to capture ideas for later!)

I hope that your week is going well and that you have awesome plans for your weekend!

Rose gardens surround the house

Hello 2015!!

Can you believe that it is February already?  I knew that January was going to be busy for me this year, with the house move, but I really didn’t anticipate just how busy!  Although moving house is meant to be stressful, in fact it was just busy.  I seemed to be short of time to do anything, for days on end, and yet when I got to the end of each day I couldn’t report what I had achieved.  However, the good news is that we are in, the house is now in our names (my parents and I) and we are settling in nicely.  The danger is that those few boxes that haven’t been unpacked might never get unpacked…….  but I am sure that one day I will remember something I need is in one of them and they will be emptied!

A photo by the artist-in-residence of the boy at our dam.

A photo by the artist-in-residence of the boy at our dam.

There are many wonderful things about our new home.  There is room to spread out, for the kids to have adventures, for us to consider what animals we might get to fatten up in the paddocks, or which crops we might plant to generate some income in the future.  There is room to ride bikes, find frogs and grasshoppers, to entertain friends, and to make new discoveries.   The kids decided that swimming in the dam was a pretty awesome summer activity.  Until a visitor spotted a tiger snake (extremely venomous) swimming across the top of the water towards them!!  After that they returned to skipping stones across the water from the bank, after doing a full snake check first!

Looking across the biggest paddock towards the boundary

Looking across the biggest paddock towards the boundary

bywong sunset | a little bird made me

We can see the most beautiful sunsets from our property, but they are especially good when I climb to the top of our property.

The artist-in-residence has been enjoying taking photos of all the gorgeous roses in our garden

The artist-in-residence has been enjoying taking photos of all the gorgeous roses in our garden

 

However there is one drawback in the midst of all this bucolic bliss.  We are currently restricted to using mobile broadband modems as we can’t get cable broadband.  12GB a month for the four of us.  Eek!   Such a first world problem, but such a chore to work out!  It has been quite good for all of us and forced us to change our internet habits, but sometimes it is just plain annoying!

I had already identified that I wouldn’t be doing any of my ‘work’ in January.  I have managed to set up my sewing room (in what was formerly the formal dining room), and have made a laptop bag for my boy to use for going to school.  But that is about it so far!  As usual I have so many ideas, and plans, but the reality of being time poor means that I have to learn to be patient!

A lap top bag for the boy - waterproof of course, with a hint of Minecraft about it!

A lap top bag for the boy – waterproof of course, with a hint of Minecraft about it!

I have been learning a bit more than patience during the last few months too.  I have discovered that I am very like my father in many ways.  Once we moved house the first thing that was required was a new home for our chickens.  Torrential, and unseasonal, rain put paid to the original plan to build something by recycling our swing set on the weekend we moved.  (Okay – I was a tad ambitious in hindsight.)  So a hurried purchase of a ridiculously small and even more ridiculously priced chook shed occurred and we moved the girls.  Then Dad set to work, using completely recycled materials (bar the sheet of plywood we had to buy to build the nesting box).  As he planned, built, measured, and interacted with the rest of us I saw myself reflected in many of his words and actions.  (And not just the good ones!)  After all these years of thinking that I take after my mother so much it has been quite an eye opener to discover that I have inherited so many traits from him!

The emergency purchase chicken coop - far too small for chickens, but pretty good for rabbits!

The emergency purchase chicken coop – far too small for chickens, but pretty good for rabbits!

The first stage of the new chicken palace.  Next steps include a fenced run, and an internal wall to provide shelter from the elements.

The first stage of the new chicken palace. Next steps include a fenced run, and an internal wall to provide shelter from the elements.

I have also had lots of reminders about why we have made this move, and that I can’t plan to do things with gay abandon as I used to, as my children don’t cope with it.  I can’t say that this is a lesson that I have learnt as I seem to keep forgetting it.  I thought that I could swan off the day after we moved, to clean the house we were selling.  in hindsight that was a ridiculous plan but it took three phone calls from crying family members for me to realise that I needed to abandon that plan and return to the farm to support everyone through this massive change. (And I paid someone else to finish the cleaning!)  I had also thought I could head off to the other side of the country for four days to attend the wedding of a dear friend.  A few days before the trip I realised (after a particularly drastic action by my boy) that he was in no state for me to leave him for even a few hours, let alone a few days. So the trip was cancelled too.  It is exhausting being ‘needed’ so much, but I am extremely lucky that I am able to be available so much.  The generosity and support of my parents in helping us to move house has meant that while money has been tight over January, we could keep moving forward.

What else have I learnt?  That my impatience stretches to myself!  I have spent the last week setting up a book-keeping system that will (hopefully) save time and improve processes for the Shop that I support in an admin role.  I kept wanting it to be perfect instantly, and wanting to fix everything that is associated with it instantly, and finally had to realised that I have to switch off, make a plan, and return to that dance of balancing family, work, obligations, fun, and time to let go.  So – more life lessons for this old duck.

The final lesson?  Purple hair die does not last!  So now I have returned to blue, and added turquoise.

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Other big news?  My eldest has started high school and is relishing every moment of it!  The two girls have been catching the bus home in the afternoon, and enjoying that new independence too.  The children were given pet rabbits by their paternal grandparents at Christmas, and the bunnies very happily inherited the chicken coop.  Unfortunately two of them died suddenly of unknown causes a few days ago, so there has been a fair amount of grief as a result.  (And I had to dig two holes because the first one cut some buried irrigation pipe. The ground here is very rocky – more lessons learnt there!)

Three pet bunnies the day before the two grey ones, Pixie and Carrots, died.  Mittens (white) is very lonely now.

Three pet bunnies the day before the two grey ones, Pixie and Carrots, died. Mittens (white) is very lonely now.

I can also report a very positive start to the year for my boy. I am cautiously optimistic, as last year started well too, but he has grown a lot and is constantly learning how to manage himself, and he has made it through the first week remarkably well.  His autism traits are becoming more obvious in his social interactions, so that will be a big focus to support him with over the next few months, but his other behaviours are responding well to his medication and allowing him to control his emotions much better.  Phew!

There you have it – an update on the family news.  Hopefully the next posts will have news on sewing, making, and farming!

One of the Campine chickens having a scratch around the new yard - so many juicy bugs to be found!

One of the Campine chickens having a scratch around the new yard – so many juicy bugs to be found!

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

Wrapping up the year

This year has flown by!  I swear that as I get older, time speeds up and the year seems to have only just settled into it’s routine when it finishes!

My absence from the blog has been longer than usual.  Sometimes life gets so busy that something has to give – in this case it was my blog, and my business.  Not forever, just for a short time while other things work themselves out.

The big news is that as I am writing this I am taking a break from packing up my house.  I know!  You turn your back for one minute and all of a sudden I am moving house!    And that is part of the reason for the blog break – a whirlwind of decision making, house preparation, house hunting, etc has been occurring over the last few months.  With my significant drop in income this year, and some complications that saw me have my children live with me almost full time (no complaints here) my finances took a dive and it was time to say good bye to the ‘executive style house’ in the ‘good suburb’ and look at different options for my chicks and I.  Fast forward a few weeks and my parents (who live overseas) were visiting, and helping prepare my house for sale.  One thing lead to another and now they are moving to Australia (again) and coming to live with the chicks and I on a new property that we have bought together.  Again – I know!  Huge changes!

The new property is about 20 minutes from where we live now, and is in the country.  Yep – we are going to be ‘farmers’.  Well, not really – it is only 20 acres and the land around here isn’t particularly fertile, so we won’t be primary producers, but will have lots of room for animals as pets, room to run, ride (bikes), play, etc.  There are two houses on the property so my parents will have one, and the chicks and I the other.  The ‘big house’ as we are calling it is truly big – I have choices about which room I will use as my sewing studio, and the chicks will all have space for desks in their rooms.  The chicks will attend the same schools as they would have if we had not moved, but will catch the bus a bit more (it goes past our driveway).

A sneak peek of the front garden at the new house

A sneak peek of the front garden at the new house

2015 is looking very exciting as a result.  With my parents in residence I will be able to work more, earn more, develop my business more, and still continue to support my chicks.  The possibilities are endless!

Wrapping up this year and all that has happened would result in a blog post of thousands of words.  2014 has been eventful, to say the least.  A few brief highlights instead then:

  • The Human Brochure that I am part of is definitely a highlight.  I have met some wonderful people, seen amazing things, and been exposed to parts of my town that I didn’t know about.
  • Finishing up my career as a public servant was momentous, but right.  No longer being defined by my profession has been liberating, and I have enjoyed discovering more about myself and my strengths throughout the process.
  • Creating beautiful things continues to give me immense joy and my confidence grows on a daily basis.
  • My eldest chick has finished primary school and heads off to high school next year!
  • Selling my house has been emotional but is the right decision.

On the downside there have been some of the toughest times this year.  My previously reasonably amicable relationship with my ex-husband is now gone, and I have had to make some really hard calls about what is good for my children.  Adjusting my life to parenting a child with special needs has been a long process that has challenged me on every level.  I have been exhausted for a large part of the year.

But overall, looking at the good, the bad and the very ugly, this year has had more highs than lows, and I am finishing on a good note.

To entertain your eyes, a brief selection of some of my recent sewing projects follows – custom orders, Christmas presents, and new ideas.   I hope that this year is ending on a good note for you too, and that 2015 brings new adventures and excitement and love and laughter for you all.

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Time has passed

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog for a while, but my life has been very busy  The second explains the first.  If I try to share everything in one post you will be reading for days, so I thought I would start with some highlights.

Over the school holidays the chicks and I got stuck into our garden and created four vegetable patches – well, one herb garden and three vege patches.  Between chickens, birds and possums we were quickly down to two vege patches and one herb garden, but they are thriving well. I was particularly proud of our efforts in recycling and repurposing in order to protect the gardens!  (These are old junior hockey pop up goals).

Vegetable garden|a little bird made me

A couple of weeks ago the chicks and I hosted some very long term friends for a weekend to experience Canberra as part of the Human Brochure.  I will write in more detail soon, but can report that the weekend was more wonderful than any of us expected!  Some photographic highlights to whet your appetite include:

Kids amazed that they can move a stone at Questacon

Kids amazed that they can move a stone at Questacon

 

My boy tempting a giraffe at the National Zoo and Aquarium

My boy tempting a giraffe at the National Zoo and Aquarium

Sienna feeding a lion - as you do - at the National Zoo and Aquarium

Sienna feeding a lion – as you do – at the National Zoo and Aquarium

My parents came to visit for a week about three weeks ago and are still here.  We decided that I needed to sell my house and move to somewhere that cost a little less to maintain, so have spent the last few weeks working flat out to spruce up the house.  All those little jobs that I have been meaning to do for the last few years have been done and the house looks wonderful!  At the time of writing we are re-thinking the decision to sell, so stand by for developments in that area over the next few months!  If I stay it means that I get to enjoy all our hard work, which will be great!

I haven’t managed a large amount of sewing, with everything else that has been going on, but have been creative in other ways, including making some gifts for my guests using some great quotes from an article about Canberra.

01a3caefaa7aa8ff89adca6a86199d5a746170eb4e Canberra tote bags |a little bird made me

This might be the briefest update in my blog’s history, especially given all that is going on, so I will have to provide more detail and more photos over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime I have to share my latest hair colouring adventure with you.  My father asked me if it was ‘designed to attract or repel?’.  When I responded that it was ‘to amuse’ he informed me that it had done it’s job!

Jacaranda Hair|a little bird made me Jacaranda Hair |a little bird made me

I hope that you are all well, and being kind to yourselves!

7 Free things to do in Canberra over the Spring school holidays

Our two weeks of school holidays start today!  The children definitely need the break, and their mother isn’t complaining either!  While we have a camping trip planned for the second week of the holidays, for the first week I thought we might explore a bit more of the city we live in, rather than sitting at home with eyes glued to screens.  (Wish me luck!)

There are some amazing classes, programs, and activities available during the holidays, and my children have a long wish list.  However money is a little tight, and I realised that it was probably time for us to craft a list that focussed on things that don’t cost a lot of money, but will be really enjoyable.

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

1.  Floriade.  Yep – it may be clichéd but the huge floral displays are open throughout the holidays, are free to enter, and provide lots of different opportunities for being involved.  There is a different program of activities every day.  The tips I gained from head gardener, Andrew Forster, were to check the program first thing each morning before planning your day.  There are great things in the ‘Fun for Kids‘ section, including potting their own plants, attending Bunnings workshops, a circus playground with workshops, and more!    (And Bindi Irwin will be at the inspiration hub giving talks one day.) If all else fails, take a picnic and let the kids run around on the big grassed areas.

2. Arboretum.  The national collection of plants is free to enter, and roam around.  In addition to the wonderful wooden pod playground, there are also open spaces for picnics and running around, and amazing photographic opportunities.  There is a free creative corner during these holidays, plus a program of workshops ranging in prices from $10 – $30.  My personal plan is to pack some food and take the kids there with their cameras/iPods etc and run a family photo competition.  If it works I will publish their entries here for you to enjoy!

National Archives of Australia |a little bird made me

3. National Archives of Australia.  You might remember that I enjoyed a tour of the National Archives as part of the discovery phase of the Human Brochure.  I have been wanting to take the children there ever since, and with the opening of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize this week, the timing is perfect!  Entry to the archives is free, and there is a great range of exhibitions that I think my children will enjoy exploring – including one of ‘banned’ material that I think will appeal to my son!!

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

4. National Gallery Sculpture Gardens.  I suspect that taking my active children (well, let’s be honest, my son) into the Gallery could be a recipe for stress, but I think that exploring the Sculpture Gardens, with reflective sculptures, floating heads, and my favourite, the James Turrell installation “Within Without’, could be much less stressful!  I might even include that in our family photo competition!

5. Geocaching.  We have been a little slack in our geocaching for about a year (oops) but the upside of that is that there will be lots of new caches around town that we haven’t discovered.  If you aren’t aware of geocaching it involves looking for hidden caches/containers that contain a log book, and occasionally swap-able  or track-able items, using GPS coordinates.  You can download a free version of the app to your phone, or use the GPS from your car (or go really rustic and use a compass!) and search for different caches hidden in public spaces, and logged on a website so that others can look for them.  I like to pick a geographic area, park the car and then go for a walk with the kids to find as many as we can before someone gets tired and complains!

6. National Museum of Australia.  The museum is always great for an interactive experience with kids, and these holidays they are running free drop in workshops in their Discovery Space, including one where you can make your own wire sculpture.  (Wonder if the kids will realise that I am there to do it for me, rather than to entertain them?!)

7. National Library of Australia.  On 2 October the Library has a story time session and a movie for children, both of which are free.  But the thing that appeals to me for my children is the Library detective – a free ‘find it’ trail of discovery.

Handmade Markets | a little bird made me

Plus one more.  Handmade Markets.  Entry to these amazing markets (no I am not at all biased) is free!  Of course it won’t end up being truly free as the temptation to buy so many of the beautiful products there is hard to resist, so I haven’t included it in my list of 7 – but wanted to remind you that it is a great day out!  4 and 5 October at the National Convention Centre!  (I won’t have a stall there but will be there helping out anyway!)

There are many more things to do in Canberra over the holidays, but this list will keep us going I think!  What ideas do you have for free activities these holidays?