We’ve been so blessed to meet a lovely homeschooling family here in Northland. The Joneses have five beautiful children, and Jessie kindly invited us to visit their beautiful beachside home at Whatuwhiwhi (pronounced “Fut-u-fee-fee”).

Jessie and her family, April 2011
Here's Jessie with her beautiful family.

While at the Fairy Festival last month, Jessie boldly approached us, declaring: “I know you — you’re Sparkling Adventures!” Jessie first recognised our horse truck from photos on this blog and then spied us in the hall. She was immediately warm to us while she gave her time to serving others’ kids at the Fairy Festival.

We also saw Jessie in action at Tierra’s birthday party. She and her daughters planned and initiated the games and prizes. Everyone present was infected by Jessie’s enthusiasm and good humour.

When we arrived at the Joneses’ Whatuwhiwhi house, Jessie wasn’t home. But her children were, and they offered me a cup of tea and gladly showed us around. It’s inspiring to see how older girls behave, and we believe our daughters will grow into lovely young ladies like these ones.

Perehipe Beach, Doubtless Bay, April 2011
Even at low tide, you can feel the tranquility of this beautiful part of Doubtless Bay.

The girls jumped on the trampoline out the back until Shania showed us a strawberry guava tree. Then that’s what we did — we picked and ate the miniature red fruit.

Calista with a strawberry guava, April 2011
This was the first time we've eaten strawberry guavas even though we have the bushes growing at home in Australia. We all love them!

Shania and Jasmine pick strawberry guavas, April 2011
The best guavas still left on the bush are way up high.

When Jessie arrived home, she welcomed us warmly. Our girls started playing with the Joneses’ toys and Jessie joked that in this one visit our girls would soon have their full of Disney and other merchandised characters. I was amused to hear one girl ask Aisha if she had seen Dora.

Aisha: Not in real life.
Jasmine: Have you seen Dora on TV?
Aisha: No, we don’t have a TV.
Jasmine: Oh.

Playing with the Jones girls, April 2011
Our daughters love discovering all the new toys at homes that have girls.

Jasmine, Aisha and Brioni, April 2011
Aisha and Brioni love playing with 9yo Jasmine.

We really enjoyed talking to Jessie and got so carried away that it was only when her son Luke phoned that Jessie remembered she needed to pick him up from the school bus stop.

Luke is the only Jones to attend school. He is passionate and about sports and loves participating in the school teams. Before he started this year, Jessie quizzed him carefully, “Are you sure you really want to go to school?” He takes a twenty-minute bus-ride each day to a small school at a nearby town and loves being with his friends.

The girls are all homeschooled. In Jessie’s words, last year they “fully unschooled”, but this year they’re attending some lessons as part of a local co-op.

It was the girls who requested the extra classes which include anatomy and physiology, ukelele lessons, religion, dance and craft workshops. Jessie is very supportive of the girls’ different interests and learning styles and recognises their individual needs. Her home is overflowing with craft materials and completed projects.

David tuning the ukelele, April 2011
Together, David and the girls worked out how to tune a ukelele. The older Jones girls are taking ukelele lessons.

Making bird-seed feeders, April 2011
Jessie generously included our girls in her family's craft projects during our visit. Bird-seed, combined with gelatine and placed into cookie-cutter-moulds, makes beautiful feeders for the winter garden.

Jasmine and Aisha, April 2011
The backyard lured the girls out of the house — the Jones girls live outside for most of the year.

Brioni beading, April 2011
Brioni particularly enjoyed threading beads into anklets, bracelets and a coronet.

The family loves to spend time outdoors when the weather is fine — on the beach, in the water or in their garden. Jessie’s girls took us for a walk to explore the nearby streets and enjoy the view.

Going for a walk, April 2011
One morning, the Jones girls took us for a walk around the headland.

Shania and Brioni, April 2011
Shania pointed out all the different towns on the far side of Doubtless Bay.

Going for a walk, April 2011
The views here are spectacular. But remote as it is — land is not cheap. These blocks are listed for NZ$350k.

Fishers and Jones girls, April 2011
At the crest of the hill, we all stopped for a snack and to admire the view.

We were able to enjoy several beautiful days at the beach, with the calm, clear water of Doubtless Bay making it clear why our Whatuwhiwhi friends are so happy in this location. We were astounded by the clarity of the water which makes all watersports such a joy!

Perehipe Bay, April 2011
Perehipe Bay is bordered by interesting rock formations that stretch into the water.

Brioni, April 2011
Brioni enjoys riding on the branch over the water.

Perehipe Bay, April 2011
A huge tree grows right on the shoreline, providing shade on hot days and wonderful handholds for inquisitive children. Following the older girls' lead, Calista climbed onto the lower branches.

David kayaking, April 2011
David took the girls for a kayak on the smooth water.

Brioni, 4yo, April 2011
Brioni is brave enough to paddle on her own.

When we left Jessie, we were so thankful for her hospitality to us and wished we could have done more to demonstrate our gratitude. We’re thankful for the beautiful influence she is on the homeschooling community here in Northland and look forward to seeing her again in the future!