28 February 2011
We've had a challenging week in the owlet nest. Big owlet returned to her usual activities. At drama, she is getting to know a new bunch of kids because her best drama buddy moved up into a different class. She has found herself in the midst of a group of kids who go to our local primary school. For the first time, she has noticed she is the odd one out. She's also been watching a large amount of shows on iView full of propaganda about how awesome school is - that time of year, preparing littlies for the big leap. Everyone is at school, except her. Oh and her friends, but MOST people go to school... When I reassured her that lots of people stayed at home too, she was surprised and a little relieved. Still, the seed had been planted. The drama kids described school as this awesome place and wouldn't listen when she described her kind of freedom. Their way is better. She asked if she could go too... Huz and I braced ourselves. We knew this day would come. Eventually. We didn't expect it this soon.
So here comes the perplexing bit. Aside from the fact that we've found this way of life that we LOVE and that actually works when it comes to the owlets learning, we are unschoolers and at the heart of that philosophy, we listen to our children. We follow their lead, say yes more than no. Would we have to let her go? Even though we knew it was wrong for her? There was much soul searching, reading, talking... a few tears. She couldn't tell us why she wanted to go. Couldn't state what was missing for her, but something was. On Sunday morning, we went out for coffee and Huz and I told big owlet where we were at with it all... I described different learning styles and how each of our owlets learns differently. That we are lucky that we are able to meet those learning styles and help them flourish. We told her how much we love and understand her emotional responses to life. Reminded her that not everyone respects her feelings that way. We told her that we didn't feel like school was a safe place for her right now. Not until she has a little more emotional resilience and understands that she is not the problem. She agreed. Huge sigh of relief...
So, to find the missing piece. Big owlet has watched Huz enjoy Kung Fu for over a year now. He loves it. She's been itching to join him. Last week she did and it's become her passion too. She's been nagging me to get back to my passions. She's missed me creating stuff - hey, haven't we all?!! So this morning when I asked her what she might like to do, what's missing, out poured a whole load of creative projects. Not so much things for me to do with her, but rather for her. She's wanting me to make her stuff. Connect with her. Nurture her with craft. I suspect she will then join in and take up some crafting of her own. I reckon she's over the baby gazing and thinks I should spend some time following my own passions. Leading the way. She's right.
One of the most vital things I've found when it comes to how unschooling works, for us anyhow, is that if we follow our own passions and share them, the owlets join in. Or they see us working on things, enjoying them, and work on their own passions in a similar way. It's not just unschooling that works in that way. You often hear that people who are exceptional at something had a parent who shared the passion, or were passionate and exceptional at something else... So I suppose the onus is on me to get back to doing what I love. Perhaps find something new to get excited about too and sprinkle some inspiration big owlet's way.
As for little owlet, well were safe there for a while. She's never spent much time away from the nest and school is nowhere near her radar. She laughed when I asked if she wanted to go to school too. "Of course not!!" She's finding her feet beautifully and developing passions of her own. Enjoying unschooling and the freedom and experiences it brings.
Labels: unschool monday
24 February 2011
Didn't you always want the sky on your walls? Clouds and all? The owlets have chosen the colour of the sky. One more coat. Clouds are next. Then their "doorway to the sky" is complete. They've chosen to share a room again. They have been for months anyhow, but this makes it official. We're hoping there will be many sweet dreams...
23 February 2011
Ever have days where you question everything you've chosen to do? It seems like you've taken too much on and each day takes you further away from where you want to be headed... or you are getting there, but ever so slowly. You wonder if you're going about things the right way. Or you need some inspiration to get back on track... Kate was asking for a little inspiration too, so I know I'm not alone... I seem to have at least two days like this per week of late. Suddenly the idea that there is a school two streets away becomes appealing. Those days where the part of me that still needs de-schooling gets a little worried that the owlets are having a little too much fun and not learning enough... Or I think of all the craft projects I'm desperate to get stuck into, the garden that won't get built, the pile of washing that I never see the bottom of, or the awesome blog posts I'm reading where people are doing amazing crafty things, having amazing adventures with their owlets. Things that seem on hold for me right now. I feel stuck.
Then I look at her. I remember that one year ago I felt that first little buzz. Fourteen weeks ago she was born on this very spot. The same spot where this week she rolled over for the first time after days of trying. Huz and I watched as finally that hip and shoulder made it over and she lay on her tummy and looked up to us as if to say "now what?" A little reminder that we don't always know what will happen next, but if we chip away at it, we might just start heading in the right direction. A reminder that all my owlets have a desire to learn and no amount of teaching them will make it happen. They just have to be ready. A reminder that all that stuff can wait because it is so fast, and there can be nothing more rewarding or important than nurturing this tiny owlet.
21 February 2011
What can you hear right now? What's your favourite sound? Lots of people say hearing children play makes them happy... That's what I can hear right now and I must say, it is a satisfying sort of a sound when the baby is asleep too and you can grab a few moments... What I'm loving about what I'm hearing right now is that it is that quiet, absorbed, completely immersed play. The kind of play that doesn't know the sound of a school bell. If Huz was, here we'd be sharing the odd sideways glance, wink and giggle too... It's hilarious at times, listening here, outside the cubby. Big owlet's bestest friend in the whole world is with us today and it's lovely. Play is so important. Important for processing, sharing knowledge, testing what they know, learning from each other. It is the main lesson when it comes to unschooling. They giggle, fight, love, whisper... They act out every emotion, think creatively, use their bodies... Then sleep so well... Anyhow, back to my cuppa and quiet moment while mermaids Pearl, Tara and Fiona Janice get on with important mermaid business in the other room and tiny owlet snoozes...
15 February 2011
14 February 2011
As I've shared before, little owlet has a big phobia of bugs. And dirt. Oh and the bush. Nature in general. She's also afraid of big man-made things falling apart. Like the trampoline. By the end of last year, she'd barely spend any time outside anywhere that wasn't a playground. It meant that she wouldn't enjoy gardening or climbing or running. She was also afraid of the ants that are all over our house. She wouldn't go anywhere alone. In recent weeks, we've been creating a space to encourage all the owlets outside, but especially her. It's working. Now she loves mud.
She catches butterflies too. She's discovered that she's not afraid of all bugs. Just most of them. But she's outside and looks with fascination rather than running inside screaming... well unless one jumps on her. She's getting there. She has a safe space that makes being outdoors fun and it makes all the phobias easier to live with. A safe space to learn from the phobias too.
Big owlet is rather fearless. She's practical and takes a scientific approach to most things. She'd remove a spider or put a half-dead rat that the cat found out of its misery, when I couldn't. Her one phobia is fire. When she was little owlet's age, Myer burnt down. It seems an age when everything is big and scary, just as they leave mama's side in a quest for greater independence. So anyway, we were at Myer the day before it burned. Next day we drove down a big hill and saw it from a distance. Big, scary fire. It burned all the toys and clothes that she'd wanted. The ones I said no to. We didn't save them. From that point on, fire has been a big scary thing for her. It's a good thing to be afraid of. We've explained that fears warn us about danger and that can be a good thing. But she has nightmares about it. Sparks from our own fire freak her out. So we built one in the backyard.
Both of the bigger owlets helped to build the fire and sat nearby while we lit it. We explained how to do it safely. Then we got on with the day... keeping an eye on it and playing nearby.
We cooked some damper and made the fire useful.
Damper - aka. backyard beer bread - was a success. Big owlet proclaimed there should be more fires! We spent the evening with her after the little ones were in bed, munching beer bread and looking at the stars, keeping a safe distance, but enjoying the fire's warmth. Talking, learning and snuggling. Reflecting on the day and all we learned, from safety, physics, biology, local history, pioneers and swaggies, to bush tucker and astronomy.
We're finding that if we work alongside their fears, rather than ignoring them or avoiding experiences because of them, we are helping the owlets overcome their fears. We create a safe environment for them where they can play and explore their fears, or just get comfortable near them, and the world doesn't seem like such a big scary place. It always helps when we are nearby too. Pottering, working and playing and demonstrating why those scary things aren't so scary after all, but just part of everyday life.
Now if someone can just do the same for me and my little height phobia...
12 February 2011
We've removed our veggie patch. It has completely gone. Back to lawn in a week. I feel sad that there are no pumpkins to look forward to this Autumn. No potatoes under the soil. Nothing greener than a blade of grass... Oh that grass! The weeds require some serious planning, more than in any other garden I've known. They grow and grow and before long, mother nature reclaims any of our best efforts. Our dream of having a food forest on our larger than average suburban block is just that for now. A rather distant dream. Especially while we have small owlets needing most of our love and attention.
So we are taking a realistic approach to it all. Working with what we have and adding to it when we can. The fruit trees all need love. We might even put some new ones in later in the year. Pots have been filled with seedlings that will provide us with some leafy greens and herbs. Just a little boost to our weekly shop. Manageable and right next to the hose so I don't forget to weed or water them. We're saving up for a raised bed and then another as time and money allows. It isn't easy when we pop our heads over the fence and see a food haven filled with raspberries, lemons, veggies... or look across the road and see the truck delivering a mountain of mulch - the one we wish we had, rather than the meadow of weeds that is currently choking our native garden... But we have enough and a wander around the garden turns up more than you'd expect at first glance. Apples - more than last year. Passionfruit dripping from the vine, mint and oregano growing wildly, new buds on the lemon tree and... rhubarb. This year it is finally producing enough to add a little something different to our cooking. Sadly, the apricot tree suffered a horrid case of brown rot and we lost a huge crop. Not one apricot.... But we have rhubarb!!
What are you grateful for?
10 February 2011
Our little play area is complete. It's a space we hope will inspire a little creativity in the owlets. Particularly little owlet who is a little afraid of spending time outside. If we did school, this would be her kindergarten year, so we were a little mindful of that when thinking of what elements we'd like for the garden. Combined with the new sand pit and fairy log ring, the whole project cost us about $50. We're hoping to do a major removal of weeds and spiky plants, but for now it's functional.
The banging wall is a big hit (pun intended). Perhaps not so much with the neighbors... thanks to Soulemama for the idea.
The mud pie kitchen - brilliant. Perfect for cooking for the mud cafe.
Balancing beam in place - perfect for lining up mud pies in the sun and walking the plank.
Mud. That's my little bug and dirt-phobe there...
Knee-deep in mud. Loving it.
More creative spaces at Kootoyoo
7 February 2011
Big owlet made an announcement late last week: "Science is cool! I'm a scientist!" I love that she doesn't say when I grow up. She just is. She's a scientist now.
A little further reading led her to discover that at the moment she's an entomologist. Right now she's studying ants. Good thing there's plenty about. Anyone who has spent a little time in my neighbourhood knows she'll never run out of specimens. What I love about living in a smallish town is that everyone knows everyone. It makes it easier to find someone who can help the owlets with what they need. Huz went to the bush with a colleague last week who is going to help big owlet study a rare butterfly. She can count the shelters it makes, collect data and hopefully help save it. Cool indeed. Also helpful that Huz is into that stuff too - and brings her things like dung beetles as gifts.
Of course, she can just as easily change disciplines. Maybe astronomy, or just checking up on the neighbours... She's also particularly interested in baby development right now. Good thing we have access to one of those too ;)
6 February 2011
Big owlet had a haircut today. I cut it for her. We haven't been to a hairdresser since moving to this island five years ago... Anyhow, today she asked for short hair and the scissors were in my hand. Her hair had been knotty, again, and we'd had some tears last time she asked me to tie it up for her. So we cut it. She said she wanted "to look goofier". Not sure she knows what that means, but she feels more like herself now. She's all grown up and so little all at once. She loves it. Obviously.
She wears her heart on her sleeve, big owlet. You always know exactly where you stand with her. Communicating her emotions has never been as difficult for her as understanding the emotions of others. She laughs and bubbles with enthusiasm at the slightest thing. She also cries easily. Anyone who knows her can attest to this. The other day we were at a cafe with a lovely new friend. The owlets had eaten ice creams and big owlet was getting bored, so she asked for a milkshake. I was planning to leave soon, was running low on cash and thought the milk may not do her chesty cough any favours. I said no. Overflowing with the frustration of someone big enough to know what she wanted, but not big enough to go buy the milkshake for herself, she cried. It's understandable. She's powerless in the situation. It's frustrating for her. She wears her heart on her sleeve, so she cries.
A woman at the next table loudly said to big owlet "oh you're too big to cry! I'm shocked!" My friend and I disagreed, in a friendly way - as friendly as we could anyhow - saying you can never be too big. Then the woman went on to tell us how amaaaaazing her grandson is. "He never cries. Unless he hurts himself badly.... Spoilt." "Um... pardon?" I asked. "I'm a spoilt grandmother". She said, smiling like a cheshire cat. Hmmmm.... I hugged my beautiful, big hearted girl. So thankful that she feels safe enough to tell us how she feels. To let us know when things upset her. One day she'll be able to explain her feelings with words. I'll be listening to her then, just as I listen now. Even if I can't fix the situation for her, she'll be heard. I'll be listening when she's bubbling over with joy too. Just glad she's sharing a little of her happiness with me.
3 February 2011
I can feel a return to crafting happening. With me, everything is slow and steady. I've been waiting for the urge to strike and the stars to align before I return to making things with my busy hands. I'm very keen to try out the new overlocker. My mind is also bubbling with loads of new ideas for owlets, both mine and other people's. It's just occurred to me that I've never made any baby clothes for my own owlets before and I'm excited to indulge my tiny one. The bigger ones seem to have grown too, so some new clothing is in order. I'm looking at all things Ballets Russes and wishing I could get up to the exhibition before it closes... but the book will probably suffice. I'm thinking I might make a proper start with crochet too. See if it suits these shakey hands more than the knitting needles.
Play along at Kirsty's
Labels: my creative space
2 February 2011
I'm sure I'm not alone in finding four a difficult age. It's also wonderful for all the independence it brings. That's just the thing, isn't it? The constant battle between wanting to grow up and stay little all at once? A beautiful friend wrote about time in with her little one. He's the same age as little owlet - we met via a pregnancy forum all those years ago. She reminded me of the importance of holding them close. Nurturing the little one that they are rather than getting angry at the big kid they are trying to be. Some concentrated time with each of my owlets seems to keep things running smoothly. Usually if little owlet's having a rough day, we head for the kitchen, whip up some pikelets and that makes everything better... especially if there's a guitar spatula involved and you can rock out between flips ;)
1 February 2011
In my wanderings around blogland, looking for inspiration, I spied Tricia's fairy seating ring via Jenny's blog. I mentioned it to Huz and he remembered a large pile of logs around the corner from our home. Remember the post about our favourite tree? The one we could see from our lounge room? The one we watched being cut down while the owlets cried? Well Huz wandered around with big owlet and asked if he might be able to have a few logs for our garden. It turns out the owner of the tree was just as sad as we were about the loss of the tree. She loved our idea and was so happy that the tree would continue to be loved and remembered by some neighbourhood owlets. So now we have a log ring. Perfect for balancing or sitting at while eating garden soup or mud pies...
Big owlet has been loving pulling off the bark and looking for bugs and sanding the tops. Little owlet likes it as a cafe and tiny owlet is watching it all, excited for when she can join in I'm sure...