31 October 2011
An amazing thing happens after you've been unschooling for a while. You stop thinking about it so much and instead of looking for learning opportunities everywhere you just get interested in life. Learning, after all, happens as part of living. I have started to notice patterns, however. And variations on how learning happens for my owlets. I've also noticed how the owlets learn together, from each other.
Little Owlet is all about learning to read and write at the moment. She works on it for much of the day. She looks to Big Owlet for help at times where I'm busy. Big Owlet is happy to help her because it reinforces her own learning. Writing has been her big learning quest for the past year, so she's happy to get practice reinforcing her newfound skills. Little Owlet learns in a slightly different way to Big Owlet. She's more interested in sounding out the letters than seeing them and prefers to write letters based on shapes made from our hands, than by copying letters on paper. She tells knock knock jokes that are based on phonetics; "Knock, knock", Who's there? "Buh" Buh who? "Ball"... and so-on until she's exhausted everything in her proximity. It requires a certain amount of patience and humour. Big Owlet is amazingly patient, for an eight year old...
The brilliance of family learning is that the older children are so involved in passing the knowledge along. So instead of what looks like the 1 adult to 3 owlets ratio we have most days in the nest, Little Owlet has two people around most days to help her learn. Tiny Owlet has two owlets and one adult to help her learn. And when Huz is home, there are two adults. So much better than the 30:1 ratio we faced at the local schools. It also means that Big Owlet spends more time seeking information from both adults in the nest. As we come to read the same books to the younger owlets, talk about familiar themes, Big Owlet gains a revision session and her confidence grows as she helps pass on knowledge. And now that she can read well, she's taking initiative with her learning, as she sees us do.
Of course, there's an inherent drive in all the owlets to mimic what we do and mimic their older siblings. In the photos, Big Owlet decided to set up a bird hide and "observation office" in the back garden one day. She began drawing pictures of birds and writing down their names. Five minutes later, Little Owlet joined her and was doing the same, but in her own way, writing words spelt out in our finger shapes. Tiny, of course, needed her own notebook and pencil just moments later. I stayed nearby, just close enough to observe them... And so they worked for a little while, together, chattering and talking and helping each other... It's very organic, this way of learning and living. It seems very natural. Learning as a family, together.
30 October 2011
Things still aren't looking great for accessibility of homebirth to a great many Australian women. Its getting ugly in some places as people spin hate and fear. The losers in this, of course, are women. All women, who lose out as their choices and bodily autonomy diminish... *sigh* I worry for my owlets and what it'll all be like when their turn comes. But rather than focus on all that, I'm going to think about what homebirth has made ME aware of...
I'm aware that a woman's birth is her own and she needs to own it.
I'm aware that if a woman chooses care providers, they must trust her, follow her lead, support her fully.
I'm aware that there is no place around a birthing woman for fear.
I'm aware that the language used around a birthing woman is so influential to her birthing experience*.
I'm aware that unhindered pregnancy and undisturbed birth can mean instinct takes over and perceived risk diminishes.
I'm aware that I'm the best judge of what is going on with my body and my baby.
I'm aware that undisturbed birth is unlikely in a hospital setting, although hospital is a fantastic back-up, should I need to access it.
I'm aware that a strong, patient, experienced female presence can be so reassuring.
I'm aware that I have everything I need to birth my baby safely into my own hands.
I'm aware that my body does all the hard work for me. I just need to go with the flow.
I'm aware that space to support each other unhindered, good communication and shared effort can be a wonderful thing for a relationship.
I'm aware that Huz makes a fantastic doula.
I'm aware that I birth loudly, despite wanting to be a nice, quiet birther... And my neighbours are either very polite or heavy sleepers.
I'm aware that babies really do just find their own way to the breast and this happens much easier if left alone.
I'm aware that having my children nearby helps the smooth transition to a larger family happen for all of us.
I'm aware that its sooo good to hop in your own shower and your own bed in your own time and directly after birthing.
I'm aware that being where the kitchen is always open and where your comfort food is always on hand is ideal after birthing... And that first meal is sooo good.
I'm aware that a birth helps make a house a home.
You can read last year's Homebirth Awareness Week post here. And read about Tiny Owlet's birth here.
* For example, after Little Owlet's birth, my midwife spoke to me sternly; "If you don't empty your bladder in the next half hour, I'm going to put a catheter in". I felt like a naughty girl... After Tiny's birth, my midwife (a different one), suggested; "you might like to empty your bladder, because you'll feel so much relief and it'll be great for your uterus..." That's much better ;)
29 October 2011
When we were certain that Tiny was on the way, Huz and I upgraded our bed to a king size. At the time, Little Owlet was creeping in during the wee hours most nights and we relished the extra space. A week or two before Tiny arrived, the midnight visits stopped and Little Owlet found her own bed most comfy.
My bed is comfy, but decidedly no frills at the moment. There's a bed rail to keep Tiny safe, and an ancient clock radio which I occasionally glance at, bleary eyed, in the night. There is no time for reading, so no book, no lamp. No glass of water in case a restless Tiny tips it up. All that will return, one day, when it's just me and Huz in that great big bed again.
Tiny has slept with me since her first day. She's not much of a sleeper. Unless I'm there. At night, she wakes regularly, until I wander in to curl up beside her. Then she sleeps soundly until morning, stirring lightly on occasion, to feed or check I'm there. I know she's ready to wake up when she grins. That cheeky, scrunchy nosed, four toothed grin, and the lunge for dada... And we begin our day...
More sleepy places at Punky & Me
28 October 2011
We've had a couple of good weeks at garage sales and op shops... It's the perfect time of year for it, as Huz pointed out. Long enough away from Christmas, just right for spring cleaning. We've actually found ourselves at the garage sales and oppys completely by chance, just wandering by. We've scored the usual games and books for owlets, but here are a couple of extra bits that have filled our nest with lovely :)
I must say, the dresses are my faves. Little owlet looks so perfectly vintage and so completely at home in the red dress. And the pinny for Tiny is by Catimini. Nothing like finding French designer clothing at the tip shop... Why would you throw that in the bin?
You can find more flea market finds over at Her Library Adventures.
Now, because it's Friday night... and Blogtoberfest, it's time to announce the winner of last week's giveaway.... Tartankiwi! You have won the little love bird long sleeved t-shirt and a little something extra. A surprise... I'll spend some time over at yours this weekend and have a think about what you might like and get in touch. Thanks all for playing along with my weekly giveaways this month. It's been a pleasure getting to know some of you a little better. xx
26 October 2011
25 October 2011
I was sitting at a cafe table along a walkway to a local children's craft market one Saturday morning when someone wandered past and said "Is this yours?" They were holding up a hairclip and knowing that the owlets were not wearing clips that day, I answered no... but then, YES! I made that clip! That well worn, washed and scrunched hairclip. I made that and someone's owlet wore it lots. There was the evidence in my hand... It's a lovely thing, making things by hand and seeing them wander past you from time to time, as happens on occasion in this small town. If I had some more time, I might like to do more of it. Making stuff. One day.
Have you ever had anything you've made float back into your life in a surprising way?
Is this your owlet's hairclip? If it is, I'd be happy to return it... and make them a fresh one :) xx
24 October 2011
This may shock you. Then again, maybe it won't... The owlets are not good girls. They are just children. Awesome, fantastic, lovely, friendly, grumpy, messy, ordinary children. They are not naughty. Occasionally they do things that exasperate me. Say things or do things I'd rather they didn't. But naughty isn't a word we use to describe them or their actions. And they are never good girls.
It seems that from birth we are keen to create 'good' children. Good adults. As babies, we are expected to sleep all night, feed four hourly and play happily on the floor in between times. "Is she a good baby?" My neighbour asks me that often. We reward children by telling them how good they are and so they learn that we are happiest when they do what we want them to. They may even learn to feel happiest when we show them our approval too. To expect that love comes from doing what others want. Things do not operate in this way in our nest, as you probably already know if you've been following this blog for a while, or you know us in real life. Our babies do not sleep all night, feed four hourly or play happily between times. They feed on cue, sleep in snippets or in arms and play when they are in the mood. A fact the lateness of this post is testament to. But they are happy and loved and they know it.
It wasn't always this way in our nest. When Big Owlet was about two years old, I was at the doctors, in the loo, trying to produce a urine sample. I produced said sample and Big Owlet exclaimed "Good girl Mama! You did a wee! That's good weeing!" Oh. Dear. The whole waiting room heard, I'm sure of it... I felt embarrassed. A little silly. Ok, a lot silly. I've been called a good girl at other times in my adult life (by a dentist, doctor, midwife...), and felt similarly silly. But this was different, because I'd taught her that. I'd taught her that by doing what was expected of me I should receive the approval and praise of those around me. And that wasn't my motivation for the initial action, obviously, so to receive praise felt unnecessary.
So we started to think about it. We read a little and changed tack. We no longer lavish praise upon our owlets. We most certainly celebrate their victories and achievements with them. But it comes from a place of being pleased for them that they've achieved what they wanted to, rather than pleased with them because they achieved what we wanted them to. We're not owning their experience. It didn't take long for Big Owlet to shift from "Was I good, Mama?" to "I'm did it!!" when she was so small. And it was so good to celebrate with her. As it continues to be with her sisters. We grin and laugh and clap alongside them and let them know how we're feeling, while honouring their feelings first. Just as we do for each other and other adults around us.
Also part of this is that we offer no rewards. There is no reward chart for jobs done well, dinners eaten or teeth brushed. Pocket money is not given based on contribution to family chores. It cannot be taken away if jobs are not done, but is shared among family members in an age appropriate way, after all bills are paid. Surprisingly, little resistance occurs when the owlets are asked to contribute. They do it, like everything else, because they can see the benefit for themselves and their family. They are not motivated by our approval, although our happiness and wellbeing may be a consideration.
So how does this relate to unschooling? Well, our choice to unschool initially centered around the fact that all the schools available to us are heavily focussed on praise and rewards. Program Achieve! Gold stars, rewards charts, certificates... Perhaps it's one of the reasons we seek praise in the workplace or elsewhere in our lives. Or why we find ourselves doing a university degree we didn't want, or working in a job we hate, with no idea how we got there. Our inherent need to do the right thing and be good girls and boys steers the way. It can lead us down a path that doesn't necessarily suit our own needs so much as meet the expectations of others...
Anyhow, we opted out because we didn't want that for our owlets. They've encountered friends who are so praised up they believe the hype and it's become damaging to friendships (and gosh it's hard work responding to that need for praise when they're around!). They've felt uninspired by stickers and rewards systems and competitive coaxing in various activities and we've breathed easy, knowing we made the right choice for them. We also know that for unschooling to work, the child needs a large amount of self motivation and if they're doing everything for me, they're not learning what they need to for their particular learning journey. So that question "how do you get them to do what you want them to?" doesn't apply. They need to do what they want to and find their own place.
Nowadays, if someone calls Big Owlet a good girl, she'll look at me sideways and say "why did they talk to me like I'm a dog, Mama?" And I'm glad she can see the difference. We do talk to our dog in a conditional, rewards and praise based way. Because we don't want her to be a free thinking individual, able to make her own decisions, motivated by her own passions. We need her to be obedient. To fit in with the group and to feel comfortable within her role and know her place, as defined by us. As family pet. Furry owlet. Not Big, Little or Tiny Owlet, who are growing and learning in their own ways, doing what makes them happy, and who we love no matter what.
23 October 2011
Making :: plans for what to do over the best summer ever... Water! Plotting and planning and making it happen. Credit card debt or no... Making the most of the water at the end of the street. Too cold for swimming, perfect for paddling.
Comforting :: Big Owlet as she recovered from a serious case of post-show overindulgence. Not exactly sure whether it was the additives or sugar, but she was sick! And learned a very valuable lesson. I hope.
An interesting bump on the road to self regulation.
Eating :: Our favourite dessert. Strawberries and whipped cream, with a dash of maple syrup. Simple. Amazing.
Listening :: to Wilco's newish album. I love Wilco. The owlets are listening to Dolly Parton. We love her too.
Watching :: Huz play support at Cilla Jane's Hobart gig. Tiny Owlet's first pub gig. She spent it wriggling and feeding as only an 11 month old can... Then Big Owlet and her best mate hopped up on stage for a quick performance. Totally improvised. Totally awesome. Cilla was excellent too, but we missed the majority of her performance due to one tired baby.
Reading :: Oodles of Dr Seuss and Mr Men to Little Owlet as she takes interest in reading... here we go again!
I hope your weekend was exciting too! xx
22 October 2011
At my very first crafternoon, I made this pincushion. I ran my eye over a few tutorials, grabbed some Japanese fabric scraps and sewed them in a circle. I grabbed a couple of buttons and some embroidery floss on my way out the door and shoved them in my bag. I was a bit nervous turning up at Bec's house. I didn't know anyone there... and I hadn't made anything in ages! I was still working from home as a sock designer then, but making stuff with my hands was something I'd not done much of since uni. When I arrived, I felt like I walked into a bunch of people who had the ease of a group who'd known each other for a long time... well, they had. But they were welcoming, and lovely, and I made that wonky looking pincushion that day.
Now it sits next to my sewing machine where owlets pull the pins out and group their colours, or organise them by shade, use them to count and spell out words. But it's a good size, super handy and I love the wonk factor. My pincushion often joins me on outings too. Especially Brown Owls where I'll be heading next Saturday. If you're in Hobart, perhaps you might come too? Even if you don't know anyone there and haven't made anything for the longest time... Maybe you might like to make something as simple and perfectly wonky as my pincushion?
I'm playing along with Punky & Me today. Head over to there to see more pincushions. xx
PS. If you're in the Geelong area, you may want to check out the brand new Brown Owls group Vic's setting up. I bet it will be super awesome!
21 October 2011
I couldn't go to bed without announcing the winner of last week's giveaway... And starting up a new one! It is blogtober after all!! And, I'm down a couple of posts this week, so a catch up won't hurt ;)
So. The winner... thanks to random.org (and well chosen, I must say), is Georgi! Bravo!! Georgi keeps a lovely blog of her writings and musings and favourite music... which is most of our favourite music too. So it's a good thing she's won Huz's music pack... She tells me she has lots of tiny owlets on the way in her circle, so it's a good thing she's won a baby t-shirt too! Happy Friday Georgi!
Next week, I'll be giving away the lovebird t-shirt above, plus whatever goodies I can find. Maybe a matching hat, or a vintage knitting pattern, or some buttons, or fabric, or maybe I'll make something extra? Let's wait and see... What you have to do is leave a comment here, and on another comment later in the week. Then meet me back here Friday night and I'll draw the winner. Simple. Look forward to seeing you around! xx
We spent a lovely day at the show today... Just an easy, simple, fun day. Each owlet was armed with an amount of money to spend as they wished, which allowed for a certain flow and meant they didn't ask for more, and more, and more... Unlike previous years, we didn't need to say no, or limit their experience, rather, they worked within their own limits, and did it quite well. No tears, no complaints, just happy owlets. I'm still somewhat amazed. Can you tell? Tiny slept most of the time, and we just wandered along...
As you can see, the owlets stuck with their commitment not to be sugarfree and indulged in lollies that painted their tongues every colour of the rainbow. And there were rides and a showbag and lunch... Everything I remember the show to be. We marvelled at the craft, saw every animal and for the first time, Little Owlet wasn't afraid... except for the cattle pavillion. Some of those cows were BIG! But Little Owlet was ok, on Huz's shoulders.... She even managed her first ever pony ride. Something she's wanted for so long, but has been too afraid of, until now. Huge stuff and happy times. Hope your Friday was fun too. xx
19 October 2011
I missed a day yesterday. We had our first ever unschool/natural learners co-op meet and it was an awesome, huge day. Lots of organising and thinking to bring it together, and I hope it'll be a regular fixture of our weeks. A lovely day in the sunshine, flying kites with beautiful families... Owlet heaven.
It was also the first beautifully sunny day we've had in a while. Today I'm sporting a lovely pink glow and that stinging heat that lets you know summer is upon us. Any minute now. I've mentioned before that it will be the best summer ever for our little family, right? Here's why...
Huz has been rewarded for his long years saving the planet with three months long service leave. This means almost 100 days of summer. Not the movie, but actual real life. Him, me and three owlets + 100 days free of a daily grind...
And we plan to be right here. In our own little pocket of paradise. Getting the nest in order... exploring the water at the end of the street... maybe a camping trip or two... just one, long, slow summer. I can't wait.
17 October 2011
I'm always amazed at how, whenever I'm stuck for ideas to strew for the owlets, mother nature steps in... This week I'd been thinking about Big Owlet. Wondering what new thing might spark an idea for her. I watched with interest as she took a sudden revived interest in the guinea pigs. She'd just recently discovered that she was capable and comfortable catching them and picking them up without our help. She was especially enjoying giving Martha Wainwright (the guinea pig) cuddles. She read books on guinea pigs at night and rounded up treats for them by day. We invented a wordy mystery for her, involving guinea pigs, at her request... Then one day she noticed blood in the cage.
The next day, it was clear Martha was not well. I took some vegies out of the fridge to chop up and instead of Martha's friendly, insistent meeping, there was silence. I reached down to pat her and she was cold. Alive, just, but cold. The owlets and I dashed off to the vet with her tucked in a box the owlets had decorated for her...
Big Owlet walked in holding Martha in the box and the vet introduced herself. She directed all conversation to the owlets, occasionally referring to me if they couldn't answer. She understood the importance of the situation for them and spoke to them as people. Something we don't often strike. Big Owlet was impressed. Before we left, she said "I want to be a vet when I grow up". "When did you decide that?" The vet asked. "Just now", Big Owlet replied. "Well you'll need to work very hard at school, but of course you can be a vet!" Said the vet. "Oh I don't go to school, I unschool" (cue crickets and quick mama explanation)... "Oh I was homeschooled for a while too. It's pretty cool." Yup Big Owlet was impressed. Little Owlet was too, but she decided to be a doctor instead.
So, on Saturday we woke up and Martha had slipped away in the night. Big Owlet was very sad. Little Owlet was matter of fact about it and reflective, as she often is in these situations. Huz and I were sad too... she was most certainly a favourite. A real character, who'd come out for a chat or to sniff your finger, she'd happily feed from your hand and seemed to have a cheeky smile...
We wrapped her in a piece of pink silk Little Owlet chose for the occasion from her small stash of favourite scrap fabrics. Then we placed her in a paper bag and in a small grave under the apple tree. The one in full blossom right now so we can think of Martha when it blossoms. Big Owlet payed her respects and Little Owlet offered only a simple "I miss her", which had Huz and I welling up... Then we cancelled all weekend plans and just hung out together.
Today, talk turned to learning what's needed to persue careers as vets and doctors. Lots of maths and science happening. Lots of role play. And so another pet and the circle of life and mother nature step in again to help us reprogram and keep on learning... Always learning...
16 October 2011
A week full of ups and downs. Busy days and never a dull one among them... A week where we remembered to slow down and by Sunday night seem to have found the right pace again... Just let me catch my breath and savour a few moments, before next week begins...
15 October 2011
I was happy to see that Vic's second-hand meme is back at her place this week. I enjoyed playing along with it when it first began, so it'll be nice to join in again. My shelf is the mantelpiece in the lounge room and, along with the squashed tomato, blob of blu-tack, lego, CDs and hair clip, you'll see this little collection of red and orange... vase and bowl were my Nana's, the small red vase and other glass ornaments were gifts from friends and the coaster set was a garage sale find. Behind them you'll see a Cat Rabbit print - which I've still not found a permanent home for.
In the centre of the mantelpiece is a row of frames. Photos of Big and Little Owlet, with their first shoes. I gave this to Huz for Christmas a few years ago and he came over all misty eyed...
Next to the frames, is a group of wooden dolls Huz gave me for Christmas, also a couple of years ago (I wonder what was there before?)... I rather like them. The owlets do too and they get re-arranged from time to time as they play.
What's happening at your place this weekend? xx
14 October 2011
This year has flown. Can you believe that Tiny Owlet is eleven months old tomorrow? Where did that time go? This week has motored along and for all the moments where I wished that Friday would be here soon... here it is. And now I would like time to go slowly. Until Monday please. Snail's pace would be perfect, thanks...
Anyhow, here we are, Friday night again and it's giveaway time here! Last week I asked you to comment on my rather lengthy blatherings on the nature of blogs and comments. Thanks so much, everyone, for your responses. I wasn't trying to make it a love fest about me, but gosh thanks for your lovely comments. It was so lovely to find out who you all were! So many of my favourite people! Thanks also for your thoughts on how blogging and commenting works for you. I've not made it around to everyone's blogs yet. Wednesday onward is a blur for me, but I'm hoping, if time stops for a moment tonight, I'll have a chance.
Now tell me, when you read replies to your comments, do you go back to the blog to read them, or do you prefer an email reply from the blogger? I've personally always loved getting a personal response from the blogger themselves. Very exciting if it's a fave blogger! But that may just be me. And possibly Vic, who wrote about it earlier in the week. She has some tips for how to set your profile so you get those personal replies.
Ok, so cutting to the chase... Last week's giveaway winner was the lovely Tania. She has a beautiful blog. I'm going to go soak some of it up after popping the owlets to bed. She's won a little garden skirt for her own tiny owlet, who's around about the same age as my Tiny! Or, possibly she'll give it to a friend?
This week I'm offering a little long sleeved t-shirt. Beautiful organic cotton, natural colour, with the felt car applique shown above. Also thrown in will be Huz's music pack, including his 1st CD and downloadable second album. He might even sign it. And I may have a look around and find something else too... So to enter, the just leave a comment below and then come back later in the week and comment on another post. Easy! Then, before you know it, the week will have motored along and we'll be sitting here next Friday night and hopefully you'll have won something! Now wouldn't that be a lovely start to the weekend? xx
13 October 2011
Moving at snail's pace, but getting there, slowly. Let's face it, my creative space is almost non-existent these days. Blogtober, babies and a super busy social calendar are keeping me from creating. I'm hoping the best summer ever will rectify things. For the patient though, I'll share the link to my new shop. I'm at the point of beginning again. I'll be adding skirts and bits and pieces as I steal moments to make them, but for now, you'll find custom slots for skirts, crowns, mei tais and apron kits. And Huz's music! The owlet shop is now about all things owlet, including papa and our three owlet babies... It'll be an organic space for us to put whatever we feel like sharing. So keep an eye on it... you never know what we'll pop in there when the mood and the time to create strikes.
more creative spaces here.