Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Christmas

We were so absorbed living our lives around Christmas, I didn't get to write about it then.  But the highlights included:

Getting together with my family - At Mum's place the day culminated in a game of slip-n-slide on the new lino in the sunroom.  One of the guys would push one of the kids, who would zoom to the other end of the room.  Great fun!  Miss 4 is thrilled with her 1/8 size violin, and Mr 5 loved his new excavator (pictured digging bike jumps at his Nanna's) ...

... we had Christmas dinner at my Dad's place, where Mr 5 learned to BBQ and stayed up very late to talk to a cousin in China, via Skype.  We missed a Christmas gathering here, but will get together with my husbands family soon, for a kid's pool party and play day (there are lots of cousins on this side).

Christmas Camp - each year our church has camps in several places around Australia.  We went to Bateman's Bay and had a week of fun, fellowship and ministry.  Our aim was to focus on spiritual things, not the food, accommodation, or bugs.  All of those things were great though (I loved the lack of bugs), and we heard inspiring talks and lots of testimonies of what the Lord's done in people's lives.  We met many new, lovely people, and caught up with friends we haven't seen for a long time.  It was fantastic for the kids, as we had the whole conference centre for our group, and could see the playing field and trampoline from the common rooms and cabins.  
So they had a lot of freedom at camp, as well as frequent walks to the beach.  Paradise!

Being together - it was so good having Pete on holidays, and all of us living in one room for a week.  We really miss having him home now that he's back at work.  In the week before Christmas we worked like crazy to finish the homemade gifts (dolls house and backyard road signs ... yes finally some pics!)

There's so much more to say, but that's a taste of what I've enjoyed.  We really just feel so thankful to God and blessed in the life we share, and in the hope we have for the future.  To express it all is too hard for words, but we appreciate it every single day.

Hope everyone is well, and having happy days!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Life without school

At the time of year when my friends are taking their children to orientation days, buying uniforms and savouring their last home days, I'm glad we're not on that roller coaster.  Wondering which school to enrol in (and when ... what age should they start school?)  Hoping they make nice friends and get the best teacher in the world!  With my sky-high expectations it would be a miracle to find a perfect fit, and I hate the idea that even the best situation would be a compromise (after all, it's still school).  We might have our share of wonderful days, but there'd be inevitable disappointments.  Do I sound paranoid, idealistic or pessimistic?  Perhaps I am.  I know it's possible we'd have to send the kids to school one day, we can't predict the future, but I'm so glad that for now, it's not part of the equation!

I'm not claiming the life we can give our children will be perfect, just by avoiding school.  Home schooling (or unschooling, as I'm loving right now) doesn't exempt them from life's trials, but it does give them space and time to deal with things in a loving environment.  In a way I am unashamedly sheltering them.  I'm also freeing them to spend their time as they wish and become who they are.  I believe they will grow into more secure teens and adults as a result.  They won't come to accept nastiness and bullying as the norm, they'll have friends but can choose when to be with them.  

Despite all the freedom we've enjoyed lately, school is all around us and the kids are well aware of it.  They sometimes play schools (as I did as a child).  Miss 4 says she's starting Kindergarten next year, and I told her she is lucky because she can choose her own school uniform, or choose none at all.  She wants a rainbow coloured school uniform.  She can have it!  With all the money we're not spending on some drab costume, I'll take her shopping one day to choose a few pretty dresses which she can wear anytime she likes. 

The thing Mr 5 is most proud of this year is that he has taught himself to play the guitar.  We have no talent ourselves, except a willingness to experiment, so it's not genetic.  By his request he's had no lessons.  He just persistently strums and plucks and voila, out comes a really nice sound.  It's pretty inspiring.

I'm delighted because the kids are truly best friends, and have learned mostly to get along happily with each other.  They talk about and practice team work and cooperation, and are learning to communicate respectfully when they need time apart.  In case that sounds too perfect, be assured they still have plenty of conflict and occasional childish violence.

Lately I've deliberately neglected subject based learning in favour of letting them loose with experiences, experiments, construction, creativity and nature.   This may seem unusual to people who've known me a long time, and think of me as a planner, organiser, teacher, record keeper, rule follower ... however people are busy in their own lives, and I haven't had to try and express the massive philosophical change that's been taking place inside me. 

I can't say I've got it all figured out, and it would be kind of sad if I ever did, because there are always so many possibilities to explore and new opportunities to learn.  This month I've focused way more on my own education than on the kids.  This has kept me out of their way and given them a lot of space to just BE and DO.  We're enjoying each other, loving the Lord and finding plenty to be thankful for each day.  It's a good life.