Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Intense motherhood

A while ago this was shared on one of the blogs I read regularly (I'm sorry I've forgotten which one):

Motherhood photo essay

I love playing with words but I'm glad someone else has expressed in pictures, music and words what is so hard to articulate ... fierce, selfless love for our children.

I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

A mammoth month!

March has been incredibly full ... I'm sure to miss things but here's an attempt to summarise what we've been up to!

A trip south ... My brother Joe stayed here then travelled with the kids and I to my cousin's wedding at a south coast golf course (the bridal party arrived in trucks!)  We saw LOTS of relatives from far and wide.  On the way we stopped at the Sydney Aquatic centre (home of 2000 Olympics) with it's HUGE kids water-play zone ... we all thought the whirlpool was the best!  We then stayed at Dad's place, where the kids were kept busy in the garden, potting plants to bring home and watching the men lay pavers.  Dad (Pop) took the kids to the park to monkey around, and we showed them how to make a daisy chain.  We also celebrated my Nanna's (Oma to my kids) birthday at my aunty's house and the kids had a swim in her new pool.  We had dinner in a Chinese restaurant on the way home.  What a lot of fun packed into 3 days!

Rock climbing with some of our home school friends ...  It was the first time for my children.  They started on the practice wall, and soon Jasi was harnessed up and going for it on the big walls and ladder. Elijah only wanted to watch until the last 5 minutes, so we'll have to go back soon for him to try it.  Lunch at the park afterwards was really nice so they could get to know a few friends better. 

Lady's camp ... (without kids) I took two ladies from church for a day trip at Vacy (most stayed for the whole weekend) .  The drive out there was so peaceful.  I love driving into a rural area and just feeling everything slow down.  It was a relaxing and refreshing day with new and old friends, including my mum.  We all went out for dinner, and then back at camp in teams put on skits, before the long drive home.  It was SO nice to have long conversations and not be needed for a little while.

Shopping ... Somewhere in there Mum and I took the kids by car, train and bus (just for the experience) into town to the wonderful hobby shop.  So finally Jasi had a chance to spend her Christmas gift money on furniture for her dolls house.  Elijah chose a car set as usual.  The kids and I also caught a bus to visit a friend and her adorable baby. 

Swimming ... It's been a great month for swimming, so we've been to a few new pools and the ocean baths and rockpools.  Jasmine has loved swimming lessons with the home ed. group.  She can swim well for a few metres, and is learning how to breathe to the side.  Elijah loves swimming too and had a few good lessons, but mostly didn't like the group lessons (too cold, change of teacher, change of pool).

Soccer ... Elijah has had a few training sessions now and three practice games.  He loves being with his teammates, was a good sport when his team played a stronger team, and scored two goals.  It's exciting to watch him having fun and improving each week as his confidence grows!

FBI ... We've had (as of tomorrow) three more meetings of our home ed. kids enrichment group.  We're getting 20-30 kids each fortnight and it's going really well, as we have fun and get to know each other.  In addition to games:

*  We made and tested boats from foil and plasticine which float and carry a load, constructed boats using recycled materials, and did oil pastel and food dye art.  A big stick and ball set was used by about 15 kids to make a huge frame which we covered to make a cubby house.

*  I put on an interactive science show (colour chromatography, swirling in milk and density rainbows in a glass) and another mum led a story dramatisation, involving mask making and multiplication!  The tap-tap activity (hammering wooden pieces in pictures/patterns) was very popular.  We also had a microscope and marble run space set.

*  Tomorrow there will be a circus show (demos of tricks some kids have learned) and a chance for other children to try a few circus skills.  We will also make chocolates, fold and decorate baskets to put them in, paint with watercolours and do colouring patterns or make an egg tangram puzzle.  I'm also doing a quick maths workshop with patterns, brainteasers and puzzles which we'll solve together.  Games, dressups, skipping, music ... it'll be a fun day!

Friends ... We've had three play dates at friends houses, each very lovely and special, and morning tea at a cafe with a group of grown-up friends.  Our friend ('uncle' Mark) came for dinner and listened to the kids read books (he's always a good sport and often reads them Dr Seuss stories in a silly voice).  A birthday party at a pool was a chance to meet friends of friends.  At a masquerade ball the kids wore costumes and face paint (lion and fairy), and were excited (and Jasi at times was scared) by all the characters and acts we saw.

Family ... Visits to ALL of the kids grandparents (3 homes) have given us warm fuzzy feelings!  We've also spent time with both of my brothers and my nephew Nathan.  We played table tennis and enjoyed a new swing set at Mum's place.  At Pete's parents place we chatted and played Mastermind, the kids read them stories and Jasi did a 48 piece puzzle.  Mum came here for an 'unbirthday' party (an excuse to give the kids some incredibly cute bears she'd bought!)

Dance, drama and music ... They've obviously had less free time, with all of the above going on, but have played happily on their real instruments (violin, guitar, drums, keyboard) and music toys.  They sing and make up new songs, act like animals, doctors, shop keepers, Bible characters and performers.  Today Jasi has dressed up in full ballet costume and has asked Elijah to be her choreographer (so he's directing her to do leaps, pirouettes, tip toe like a butterfly etc).

Craft and play ... Jasi and I did some pen and paint wash sketches in the style of Quentin Blake, our favourite illustrator.  The kids sewed a set of felt finger puppets each, and have started another sewing project.  We used the box from our new hot water system to make a great submarine.  They drew and coloured many pictures to stick on as decorations.  I cut portholes and the kids made a periscope, hatch and control panel.  It was fun but now they like to fill it with toys, which they then don't hurry to put away.  This is in addition to the 'display' of toys on the lounge, the shop in the dining room and their lived-in bedrooms ... my computer desk is just as bad so I can't nag them too much.

School work ... Ha ha!  There have been few 'normal' days this month!  We've done bits and pieces of workbooks, journals, flashcard games, maths activities and occasional short phonics or reading lessons.  We always share a lot of books (in our Roald Dahl read-alouds we finished Elijah's "Fantastic Mr Fox" and all together, started "James and the Giant Peach").  Both are doing the Premier's Reading Challenge this year (only Elijah did it last year) and we've enjoyed a lot of library books, audio books and the kids animal magazine "Crikey!"  Otherwise, just learning from life and TV, computer lessons like Reading Eggs and books.

In my spare time ... I've been mostly ON duty, and loving it too, but sometimes I tune out with some cooking or reading young-adult novels, home ed. blogs and online articles.  And finally I'm about to enjoy my first sale on eBay!  We're selling a car cover Pete's work gave him which he never used, and we have 3 bidders, hooray. 

Ought to do ... The list is growing!  I need to declutter my desk, organise or do carpet cleaning, iron a basket full of clothes, hem Pete's work pants and jeans (bought a year or two ago), mend broken toys, fix potted plants (the tomato and strawberries are looking sad) and ... write a to do list.

So at the end of this MAMMOTH month, that's about all I can remember and I'm sure it's more than anyone has time to read!  Hopefully in April I'll write as we go, so it doesn't end up being an essay!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great ideas

I think some of you will enjoy these ideas, if you haven't come across them before.

I love this idea for helping children listen to and remember instructions:

The same author has a good idea for sparking creative writing or storytelling too:

And this is something I've been following and we'll try soon :
(I LOVE problem-solving, brainteasers and puzzles!)

I haven't posted much about what we've been doing recently ... there just hasn't been a moment to catch my breath and share any of it, and there's a LOT to share.  Lot's of fun, learning, sports and socialising!  Expect a huge 'what's been happening' post soon, along with a few other thoughts that have been in the melting pot recently.

:) Vanessa

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Little Aussie Adventurers

We were going to have a coastal holiday on the weekend, but hadn't booked in advance ... so we were free to change our minds and went camping in the mountains instead.  We went to a place called Frying Pan Creek, which is on the southern side of Barrington Tops.

Making a camp fire
(or a smoke signal, which is about all we managed with wet wood)

Swimming in the icy cold river
(the kids had wetsuits, but poor daddy didn't!)

We didn't see any snakes, but we saw what I'm pretty sure were funnel-web spider holes.  I removed a leech from one of our bags, but thankfully bugs were few and stayed away from us.  Our car came home proudly sporting a thick coat of red dust ... the true sign of a fun weekend!  

I won't whinge about the dirty, bug-breeding pit toilets, other people's dogs, roadblocks or an overexcited girl who couldn't get to sleep.  They were insignificant compared to the joy of being in the bush, with my favourite people, exploring new places and having fun together.

A warm shower and leisurely swim at a heated pool on the way home was a nice, clean end to our holiday.

Precious moments

Here are some of the highlights of our last fortnight:

•  There were many visits to local swimming pools!!  We're getting in lots of swimming while the weather is warm and the kids are keen.

•  Mum met us for a visit to a local art gallery.  Elijah is shown next to his favourite art work.  Then we went to Jaycar and bought lots of electronics kits and transport project kits ... for not much money at all.

•  Many hours of electronics and boat building projects followed as we enjoyed our thrifty purchases.

•  We babysat some cousins for a day, and it was remarkable how well they all played together!  The boys built emergency vehicles with meccano, and the girls played a variety of games involving assorted kinds of dolls.  It was nice for my children to have older playmates.

•  Most days we watched an hour or so of Winter Olypmics together whilst eating lunch.

•  Jasmine had her first two violin lessons (I'm teaching her, in my learn-together-as-we-go way).  She's super keen and wants to move ahead at lightening speed.  She's picking things up quickly, but I just hope she has the patience to practice the basics occasionally.

•  Elijah had his soccer muster day, so now he has met his team mates and coach.  We haven't needed to buy any gear either, with people offering us everything at just the right moments!  I hope Elijah does as well in his boots as his cousin did!!

•  My kids are always pretty musical - they've done a lot of guitar playing, composing, improvising, singing, a bit of drumming, and electronic keyboard playing.  It's been a noisy week, but I love hearing them pouring their hearts into music, and some of the spontaneous lyrics are very funny.

•  Pete came with us to the local Home Educators Swimming Carnival.  Jasmine went in some races, including a noodle race and a boogie board relay.  Elijah didn't want to join in, but played in the wading pool all day.  It was nice to relax amongst friends for the day.

•  I'm not sure when we finished reading Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl.  Our new read-together is James and the Giant Peach.  I'm sneaking in another book with just Elijah, when we can grab a moment alone, Fantastic Mr Fox, also by Dahl.  We're also enjoying picture books and lots of Bible stories.

•  Bike riding, lessons, videos, music, dancing, playing, cooking, housework, shopping ... all the usual things happened too.  Oh, and lots of painting, straw-craft and plasticine modeling.

Life is a lovely blur!