30 March 2012
Yesterday Tiny sat between her sisters on the swings at the playground. And she got it. In that moment she understood what they were about and she looked out over the river and swung back and forth and giggled and cackled and gazed at the sky, gazed at me, at her sisters, at the water... Such happiness. A complete and utter reflection of the love that surrounds her and radiates from her. I think I'd like to be just like this when I grow up. Radiating love and completely lost in the moment.
Hope you've had a gorgeous week. xx
28 March 2012
Big Owlet used to love baking. When it was just us two at home all day, she was always my little sous chef. She had her own apron and wooden spoon and most days we baked. Then something happened when Little Owlet came long. She seemed to lose interest, or I did... I'm not sure what happened. But when Big Owlet went off to kindergarten, Little owlet took her place by my side in the kitchen and although she helps occasionally, the enthusiasm just hasn't been there.
The other day I suggested that she and I bake some bread together. "Ok, but I have to bake my own bread, just for me", she said. Big Owlet is all about making and doing things for herself at the moment. She's showing her independence and that she's capable of looking after herself. I get that. But gosh it can be counterproductive in a family where you need to share resources and do things for the group. So I asked her to take the reigns and step up to head chef for the day. And she did gladly. She baked joyfully and independently while I sat in the kitchen window and watched, Tiny Owlet on my knee. Little Owlet baked alongside her, sous chef as usual. Big Owlet was so proud when she presented the final product and we all sat down to eat it warm. With butter and jam and big cups of tea.
It was such an important thing for her to do, and through it we can all see that she's ready for more. That she's wanting to help and contribute and be responsible for more. And that she does enjoy doing things for the family after all, and sharing the results of her efforts. She's starting to understand what cooking is all about and today she took her place beside me as sous chef again.
We baked muffins. Chocolate, pear and walnut, with neighbourhood grown pears, our own walnuts, harvested this morning, and an egg, borrowed from next door. She went back next door to share a freshly baked muffin with the neighbour when we were done, proudly presenting her own efforts... Learning, growing, baking, loving... It's what makes this unschooling life so special and so worthwhile.
Chocolate, Pear and Walnut Muffins
120g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup caster sugar (I imagine you could use rapadura, but we were out)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
50g melted butter
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
small handful of chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180ºC
Line 6 - 8 1/2 cup muffin pans with paper cases
Mix flour, salt and sugar together. Add vanilla, egg, milk and butter and beat until smooth. Fold through pear and walnuts. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15-20 mins. Cool and serve with or without cream.
27 March 2012
While it has a long way to go, we're loving our garden. It's suddenly quite productive. Surprisingly so. Most days we eat something from it. Despite the weeds and the cabbage moths and the aphids, its actually quite successful. A wilderness garden of sorts. The weeds have protected the plants that like protecting. They've helped boost ladybird numbers significantly and so the aphids are getting under control and the owlets are playing with the cabbage moth grubs, keeping them at bay too. Little owlet, although she loves gardening, is hesitant and fascinated all at once by the mini ecosystems in our garden.
Most excitingly, much of what we've picked this week has been self seeded. A forest of pak choy, tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkins, all happy visitors we've noticed pop up and have nurtured to picking. I love that about our wilderness garden. It is full of surprises.
We built a herb spiral last weekend. A real proper one this time. Working with materials we had around the house, and against the gentle slope of the land, we've managed to get the drainage just right. At the bottom, one day, there will be a pond for big owlet to grow some tadpoles... and maybe a fish or two. Right now the spiral has only a few herbs... rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, chamomile and lemongrass... plus the oregano, mint and parsley growing in the bed opposite. But there's been enough this week already to serve up a remedy for a nasty cough that's plagued my week.
In fact there's been enough to share around. The owlets rather fancy themselves as farmers market stall holders. Big Owlet asked me to help her bundle up some pak choy, herbs and an origami boat she made before setting up shop... Sadly we live in a quiet street. Sales were slow. And she felt that the origami boat was best given away to a little boy who walked past. But it didn't stop her having a go at selling me my own herbs at twice the price! She'll go far, that one ;) I think despite her apparent disinterest for gardening, between the bugs and the concept of profit, Big Owlet is starting to catch on to this kitchen garden idea...
As for Tiny Owlet... well she knows that apples grow on trees and that she can pick them herself when she feels hungry. And that may be the most important lesson of all.
25 March 2012
I have to confess, these two finds are (mostly) Huz's. Actually, they are the result of wishing and hoping, and so I feel like there may be something to this *manifesting* that I see discussed around the place, and that perhaps we all played a hand in bringing them here... Little Owlet has longed for a vintage typewriter for so very long. We spied a beautiful yellow one in a secondhand shop for $150 and sighed as we walked away empty handed. And again when it was still there last time we visited. Oh if only....
In the meantime, we've been doing some decluttering and have made a few offers on freecycle and to friends. Decent things that we just don't really have the space for in our nest... Then last night, Huz read this notice on the freecycle list: "Offer: Electric Typewriter that has issues with a couple of letters"... Thinking that issues were probably ok for a couple of owlets wanting to have a play, he replied. As it turned out, he was the only person to reply. And the typewriter was his to pickup just around the corner from our nest. The previous owner's son had used it to type up his showbag list each year (bless!). Expecting it would be rather bulky and ugly in appearance, Huz brought it home to unveil... *Gasp!* After he opened the case and we picked our jaws up off the floor, we saw that it was almost identical to the yellow one we'd coveted. The freecycle gods have been kind.
The tea set was a gift to our new kitchen. I spied the cups and saucers at the second hand shop where we found the kitchen cabinet. Huz fell particularly in love with them on an erlier visit there and claimed them when we bought the cabinet... Coincidentally, when we were wandering through the second hand shop with the yellow typewriter we coveted, I spied the teapot. Even more amazing, they had two! We picked up the pot that was in better condition and now they happily sit reunited on our kitchen cabinet, waiting for late night tea parties between me and Huz. We are rather fond of them... But what I love most about the bits and pieces that feather our nest is the way they arrive here. The coincidences, the luck. The stories behind the pieces and the hunt for them. It's what makes our house truly a home.
I'm linking up with Flea Market Finds on Her Library Adventures today. Go and have a look and see what luck other peeps have had!
Both photos were (very proudly) taken by Huz upon return from the hunt.
21 March 2012
It's been two months since we made our three bedroom house a one bedroom, plus playroom, plus innovation suite* house. Merging a queen and a king sized bed together to create the biggest bed in the world. We enjoy long, languid lie-ins most mornings, taking time to get up when we are ready, each with our own space until then. Traditional Japanese homes have always had the whole family sleeping in one room. It makes sense. And for us, it does too. But there have been interesting little things, astonishing things, we've noticed along the way...
Little Owlet has lost her fear of bedtime. She no longer has to be tickled or cuddled to sleep. She takes herself to bed most nights, tucks herself in and dozes off while her big sister reads silently beside her. She wakes up, more often than not, smiling at me as we say good morning with our eyes. Her confidence has grown incredibly, to the point where she's now happy to leave our nest and sleep at friends' houses. She knows she has a safe, loving place to return to.
Big Owlet, who was always a little awkward in showing affection, now has confidence and comfort in her cuddles. She comes and cuddles and kisses us often during the day. She's much more content and secure now. Less angry. Able to communicate more clearly. Grounded. She enjoys a level of responsibility and care for her sisters too, particularly Tiny Owlet. She feels, for the first time in a long time, always accepted. Welcome. Loved.
Tiny Owlet will know no different to this. She'll always know the joy of waking up with your favourite people in the world, rolling over and crawling between them for a play and a giggle. She'll only know nurture and comfort and belonging.
Last night, Tiny Owlet woke just as I was heading to bed. She often does this as her sleep cycle finishes and she wonders where I've gone. Huz went to console her while she waited for me to brush my teeth. When he placed her on the bed to snuggle in next to me, she giggled. Then pointed at her sleeping sisters next to her. Then lay down next to me, sighed and fell asleep. "Smartest thing we've ever done", Huz said. "Yes. I know", I replied, listening to my owlets breathing and sighing contentedly next to me... dozing off into a blissful slumber with my Huz by my side...
* that's Huz's name for the grown ups play room... It's our space to create, to relax and innovate.
20 March 2012
We had an unexpected home day today. This year we're planning lots of outings and home days too, but a surprise day at home, when other plans fall through, can be just as nourishing for the soul as a good day out...
Especially when you're not feeling one hundred percent... Tiny Owlet and I were glad for a moment to stay inside our little bubble and just stop. Not that she ever really stops...
Fortunately for us, this was one of those magic days where the bigger owlets dressed themselves before breakfast and leapt into the day. They recalled an episode of Backyard Science they'd watched on iView, all about bubbles. "We really do learn lots from all that watching, Mum!" U-huh... Our neighbours, I suspect, are very sceptical when they see an owlet (usually in some outfit involving pyjamas or no pants), run to the letterbox and describe to them a day of T.V and bubble blowing in place of school...
But inside our bubble, it was lovely to watch them put all that learning into practice and go on to learn a whole lot more. Big owlet asked what ingredients she might need for bubble mixture. I told her where to find the shampoo, glycerine and water and off she went, mixing her own concoction. And testing it out. Learning through experimentation and play.
They played all day and amazed themselves. Amazed me! We all learnt loads today.
By chance, my copy of The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat arrived in the mail and we read the story about the mathematics of soap bubbles... which explained why bubbles are spherical... and honeycomb shaped when all together... Which led to eating honeycomb and bananas and talking about a whole bunch of other examples of triple junctions. Then Huz sat down and watched some videos about bubbles with the owlets. More ideas and inspiration! Right now we have an experiment about whether the bubble power of soapy water lasts overnight... Yes, we all learnt loads today. Just a quiet Tuesday at home, doing nothing much....
15 March 2012
As much as we didn't want it to, Summer ended...
Huz went back to work. We felt like part of us was missing... we still feel like that a little...
I think we all feel a little bit differently about the world. The pace of life before summer, all the things that we (that I) tried to cram into it... The friendships we forged, the groups we started, the need to fill all our days with busy and fun and doing... It all caught up with us (with me) and I was so terribly burnt out. We were exhausted and sick all the time. I'm so grateful that Huz was here and summer came. We're approaching Autumn gently.
We've been slowly emerging from our little summer cocoon. Venturing out to new activities, making new friends, catching up with old ones. Remembering our old routines. Life is somewhat restored to normal. Or a new version of it, with a toddler in tow, rather than a baby...
But we are remembering to go slowly when we need to. Remembering to stop and listen before doing what everyone wants all of the time. Perhaps we are sometimes saying no this time round and looking forward to opportunities again in the future... There is no hurry.
We learnt to slow down this Summer. We learnt that the days are easier and more fun when there are more hands... And that time passes terribly quickly. Especially when you don't want it to.
We're keeping a little bit of Summer in our hearts while we move through the seasons. We're relishing the time we have when we're together. It's a good thing for Autumn that it's always been my favourite season...
We're preparing for cooler days, while relishing the last echoes of late summer... Soon the days will be short and the air will be crisp. We'll be snuggled indoors and rugging up to venture out.
We're looking for little signs of Autumn. Welcoming them when we can, with a certain tenderness. Like saying hello to an old friend.
7 March 2012
This is one of the images that will stay with me from our beautiful, long summer. We've just spent a couple of weeks looking at mandalas. Completing a unit study on them, I suppose. We finished the summer looking at circles and relishing in our own little family circle. Drawing inward before Huz ventured out of the nest again for the working week.
At the beginning of the year, we had reached a point where we needed a little more structure, stability, to our days. Big owlet especially was wanting us to give her work to do. Set her on a path of learning, but in a way that she could get excited about. She wanted direction. Something I've observed happens when she connects with a screen more than her family. We also needed to find a way to boost her confidence with numbers. I suspect that her very logical brain will embrace them when she's ready, but for now she is in the complete rejection phase which has preceded all her major milestones. And I needed a plan. So we purchased a curriculum unit from Earthschooling, knowing that Big Owlet is particularly drawn to activities with a Waldorf leaning. It outlined some great simple activities for us to expand on and expand we did... in our own unschooly kind of way...
To begin with, we reflected on the mandalas we'd seen the Gyuto monks create last September. The owlets were fascinated and would have watched for hours, had I not had a wriggly baby to contend with. We talked about the process, the meditation... And we meditated too. That's what they're doing in that first photo...
We drew our own mandalas. Then we reflected on the colours and shapes we'd chosen and what they represented.
And we ate lunch, while talking about all the mandalas we might find in nature. I read a few stories and we sung some songs featuring circles and mandalas, particularly reaching Little Owlet and her love for a singalong.
The next time we visited mandalas, we played trivial pursuit. Big Owlet's first go and she loved it! After that, we looked at the colour wheel, creating our own...
And then seeing how it works. Little Owlet exclaimed with great surprise when she saw the colours blending. I think it was the first time she'd consciously created orange, green and purple and it was an amazing thing for her...
The next morning, we stumbled across Danmala's work and we were amazed. The owlets wanted to have a go too, using bits and pieces from our own garden.
They spent quite a while there working on them, Big Owlet working solo and Little Owlet working alongside me.
Later the wind blew the mandalas away and we were reminded of the monks and how they sweep the sand away at the completion of each mandala...
While the wind was doing its work, we began working with numbers. Counting in patterns and introducing multiplication concepts to Big Owlet. She loved this one so much she wanted to do it again.
But we began working on something a little more intricate, using protractors and compasses and parts of our brains we hadn't yet used (or hadn't used for a while in my case). Robinsunne's Multiplication Clock*, as inspired by my lovely friend (and Waldorfy mentor), Kestrel. Big Owlet enjoyed this too and the point at which she understood how it worked was brilliant. She's not quite ready to grasp some of the higher numbers yet, but she understood the concept and that was enough for her.
It's all about the colours anyhow ;)
While Big Owlet was working on that, Little Owlet chatted about clocks and life cycles and sat down to colour some mandalas. It always surprises me which colours she chooses. She began with the loveliest earthy terracotta...
I sat down with her later to complete it. We love colouring together...
Somewhere towards the end of all that, between the time it took to buy a packet of Tic Tocs and eat it, Huz returned to work. Summer ended and the circle seemed to have broken for the most part of our days. We're back to watching the clock...
The days are noticeably shortening and the cool weather is here again. Autumn is upon us. So the owlets and I sat down for our last mandala meal, using our mandala-iest** tablecloth. We had our usual little morning tea circle, reserved for home days and joined hands, singing "Blessings on the Blossoms", as the owlets so love to do... And we are getting on with the year. Talking about the seasons, planning for what we might do next. Looking forward to the next long holiday, whenever it may be, and looking forward to warmth and snuggling and more time with Huz.
*The link was there just last week! Promise! I'm popping it here in the hope it'll be back...
** Is too a word.
2 March 2012
We finished our kitchen today! Twenty five days ago we were grumpy about the mould, the plaster dust crumbling into the pots and pans, the rust falling from the taps and clogging the drain... And the low benches, the never-ending pile of dishes, the lack of somewhere to sit and chat! When we first wandered into our nest, on the day we ended up buying it, I took a long, deep sigh as I looked in the kitchen cupboards, toddler on hip, and said "We have a lot of work to do". And five years and an owlet later, on the smell of an oily rag, the scariest parts are behind us. Well, for now...
I guess you could say the finished product is, um, somewhat eclectic. Stainless steel benches were the absolute cheapest solution we could find for our level of expertise. Which is not much. But they are practical and I think they kind of work. The floor was the easiest solution for a tricky situation. Not our first choice, but quick, cheap and protecting us from what we suspect is a nice layer of blue asbestos glue.
We picked up an old cabinet to use for extra storage, bench seats and a lovely old and very well worn table... Lots of room for chats and food with friends and owlet lunches! We'll be collecting some curtains and cushions along the way for a cozy winter.
There's a dishwasher! Huz is finally off the hook and we have a space for all those dishes that accumulate during our days at home. Not a necessity, but something that will certainly improve our days. Oh and a new stove! No burnt-bottom cakes and suspicious turning over of biscuits! So this evening we've eaten dinner from the new kitchen, cooked with bits and pieces fresh from our new garden. The relief with which we all devoured real food again... I don't think any of us will be requesting take away for a very long time. And it's a good thing too, because we'll be on a somewhat austere budget for a while to come. Now we get on with things like growing the garden and cooking the food. The important stuff. The fun stuff.