As well as stopping by to see Lisa Wood while we were in the Mackay region, we took up an invitation to stay from a lovely unschooling family. This led us to being introduced to a wider community of unschoolers, and then we capped off our time in Mackay by reuniting with a friend of mine from boarding school in Africa!

Calista and Aisha playing with a dollhouse, November 2012
Yesterday, Calista and Aisha opt to stay at home with half the family instead of coming to the beach with us. They're enthralled by a large dollhouse with occupants and accessories!

Sheree Floyd, November 2012
Modelling a beautiful, generous spirit, Sheree and her husband Shane are restructuring their lives to make relationships a priority, learning a fun by-product and love the key that unlocks a wonderful future.

Louka Floyd and Aisha Fisher, Sarina Beach, November 2012
Louka and Aisha go through the dress-ups as they create new characters for more elaborate imaginary games.

Louka Floyd and Aisha Fisher, Sarina Beach, November 2012
After creating money (and debit cards), Aisha doles them out to her sisters and Louka so they can spend them at the shop she's set up in the playroom.

Louka has three brothers, so she was very excited to play with all our girls! It was wonderful for me to start forging a special friendship with Sheree. She is part of a community of conscious parents who also subscribe to a model of natural learning called SelfDesign.

This was the first I have heard of SelfDesign, and I was interested to learn how it integrates home-education with natural-learning proclivities. It may be a good fit for those who like the philosophy of unschooling but aren’t able to completely let go of educational traditions.

I also got to meet some other SelfDesigners when they joined us for a playgroup. It was lovely to sit around and chat casually with other mothers. Although online networking is very helpful, these local support groups are vital for those who are making choices apart from the mainstream culture, and I’m honoured to be included during our visit.

Penny Cullen, Sarina Beach, November 2012
When Penny comes over, she brings a whole lot of coconuts and I fill up on fresh coconut-water!

Katya Galley, with children, November 2012
Katya passes out homemade cupcakes to the children.

After we drive away from Sarina Beach, we head to the northern shores of Mackay for a beach playdate with Liz and Jon’s family. I know Liz from boarding school in West Africa. Although she’s Dutch, Liz met and married Jon in Australia, and they now have five children.

Liz May (Liesbeth van der Giessen) and Lauren Fisher (Lauren Bissett), November 2012
I refused to do the math, but this is the first time I've seen Liz since we were both teenagers in West Africa. She's holding Mikayla, and I'm holding Dell, but we both have daughters named Aisha.

It was fun to talk about ICA, although from our conversations I suspect that this part of our shared past looms larger in my mind than it does in Liz’s consciousness. Often the reminiscing revealed the ludicrousness of our childhood situation in Africa, and we have both taken away a determination to dedicate this time to our children through lifestyle decisions that include homeschooling.