21 March 2013

Today and tomorrow...

Minecraftschooling #unschooling #forgottenwhattheirfaceslooklike #intheirhappyplace #learningsomuchrightnow #dogmissesthemtoo

Today was one of those special kind of good days... There was a certain calm that I haven't felt in a long time... even though I was outnumbered three owlets to one, today we found balance. And it was good. I'm recounting it so I can work out how to make that happen always.

I woke after not much sleep, feeling awful, and cancelled all plans for a stay at home day. Owlets happily obliged and we went about making breakfast. We ate at the table this morning - perhaps that was it? The bigger owlets then moved onto their morning work - animal husbandry, followed by scaling the dizzy heights of mount foldmore. Then they began the formal part of their day - Minecraft.

Tiny and I pottered, washing and tidying... The house was pretty clean to begin with (that might have been it), as it is in our always-decluttering home... Tiny forgot the screens (ooh, maybe it was that?), and I remembered the bigger owlets' toddler days with fondness as we pottered and chatted together... Then we nibbled on our morning tea platter made from what was left in our empty fridge... And then  Tiny napped.

After. Turns out they prefer certain colours in the spectrum to others #owlets #primalplatter #rainbow

Big Owlet and I figured out some Big and Important Minecraft Stuff, while Little Owlet asked me how to spell every word that came to mind... I sewed two stitches and finished one hair clip for an order I'm working on. And I had a cup of tea - sign of a good day right there.

The best art is made when you are nude #whatswiththesmock #artistatwork #toddler

Tiny woke, played with playdough, painted nude, bathed (as one does immediately after painting)... and we spent the afternoon trampolining, then lolling, reading and boobing and waiting for Huz to come home.

Enjoying a snuggle and one of our favorite books #thewonderfulplace #toddlerbreastfeeding @spiralgarden
She loves the ending best of all #bellyfullofstars #thewonderfulplace #toddlerbreastfeeding @spiralgarden

There were tears and bruises and bumps today. There was frustration and tiredness. But today I remembered to respond with empathy. I remembered to keep communication open and flowing. I remembered to slow down. And wait. And hug them all. To give them my time, and take some for me (just a snippet). And to just enjoy it for what it was... Yes, that was it.

How have your days been lately? 
Do you manage many home days?
Do you like to slow down? 

Here's to a peaceful Friday. xx

14 March 2013

mini milestones :: the big owlet edition

Big Owlet went on her first solo plane ride today... She took a little stowaway with her #babushkagirl    @spiralgarden #spiral-garden @mandaflowercake

Her first solo plane ride. Her first time away from home for three nights. Her first time out in the big wide world on her own. She couldn't have been more excited...

A little bit excited about her first solo flight! || #anticipation #unschooling

A few nights in Melbourne with much loved and missed family. She would be taken to all her favourite places, taken to lunch and dinner... treated to new clothes and shopping trips. She would be reminded of the people outside our nest who love her deeply. She would return taller, wiser, more worldly, exhausted and homesick. She couldn't wait.

Away she goes... #bigowlet #adventure

We were excited for her too. And we held it together brilliantly... Until she got to the top step, before entering the plane, and she turned, like the superstar she is, and she waved to us on the other side of the glass. Suddenly we felt small and far away, and we glimpsed our future and how quickly it all speeds by... And we were thankful for the reminder and glad for our dark glasses and spare owlets to cuddle as we waited for her return.

11 March 2013

(Long) Weekending :: Redefining

Breakfast done. Next tea. Then... Declutter all the things! #bigweekendplanned #decluttering #nestmakeover #again

We're back to earth after another weekend clearing our space. We seem to do this pretty much every six months (at least) and always on a long weekend. I'm not sure why it happens like that... But it's always in response to growing and changing needs and the need to freshen and clear our little nest. It's the best way I know to clear away the stress and overwhelm, while inspiring creativity. By the end of it we're usually sitting in a newly reshuffled home, full of plans and ideas. Every room has been looked at, sorted through and like a giant jigsaw puzzle, furniture has been moved around until it finds the right spot to suit where we're at. It's like moving house, without boxes, or any kind of plan...

Saturday usually ends in some sort of emotional mayhem and no-one's quite sure where they belong. We've removed a couple of carloads of clutter from around the place (much to our combined shock, embarrassment and pride), revelling in the feeling of freedom as we pull away from Vinnies, feeling much lighter.

Sunday sees the beginning of the rebuilding phase after all the chaos and deconstruction. Furniture is put in place and things are tweaked until our new spaces begin to take shape. Monday is all about nesting and paying attention to those corners and piles that are just a bit fiddlier. How we keep finding all the stuff to keep having huge decluttering days is beyond me. But then, we are five very different people with many skills and interests... and toys and clothes we grow out of and craft activities we admit we'll never get to (ahem).

Looking up #beforesunset

By Monday things are looking up and we're about to begin the short week with a new, refreshed outlook on life and what defines us and our nest. And we swear this time will be the last. Surely. It must be. But then we go growing, changing, learning... And redefining is necessary all over again.

8 March 2013

{this moment}

It won't be long before she can beat him #chess #owlets #play #unschooling

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

4 March 2013

unschool monday :: back to co-op

Besties #hangingatcoop #unschooling #love

The past month has seen us back to building our community around us, the owlets and me. It's been a difficult, long learning journey. We've had lots of ups and downs with it in previous years, but managed to get through with some supportive, genuine mates who make the days and weeks full of colour and fun at our little homeschool co-op.

Mama selfie #hangingatcoop #picnic #latergram

We look forward to the time to relax, play and share conversation and food among friends... nourishing in so many ways.

Tiny selfie #polkadots #selfie #gianttoddler

Tiny loves having the time to wander among the big kids, following their play and getting involved when she can. And the way they accept her as part of the gang... Actually, she doesn't give them much choice - haha!

Art and raindrops at co-op today. #rainyday #art #unschooling

This year our natural learners' co-op has moved from meeting fortnightly to weekly, meaning regular, familiar play and what feels like family building around us. The older children in the group tend to dictate the direction of play and what activities we participate in, while families bring along things that might be of interest... strewing their path, if you will ;)

Our group has gone from huge to tiny, and occasionally big, depending on whether we provide a workshop or not. People like the certainty of a planned activity and in those weeks, our numbers grow exponentially and people come and go at other times, keeping it interesting. For the most part, we plan not to plan too much, following the energy of the group and relying on members to suggest and organise things if the inspiration strikes. What we've learnt is that it requires effort to maintain a constant organised enthusiasm and regular organised workshops for the sake of attendance... It becomes overwhelming, for everyone, and unsustainable. Somehow it doesn't feel co-operative.

It also takes a bit to let go and get over the feeling that your type of community is not what everyone is after, when for you it is the best thing! Throwing your heart out there and welcoming people, friends and strangers, who then decide whether they fit, hoping they do... Somehow organised activities, entertainment and educational workshops take the pressure off people needing to examine whether your community is for them. It removes the responsibility of active participation and co-operation. Whether they want to muck in and be part of it all.

In groups, people assess whether there are enough children of the right age and sex, whether they'll be bored or shy, or challenged. The concept of a co-operative collective is challenging and people often miss the point that there's an opportunity, by contribution, to bring what they want to the group. That the group is as fulfilling, exciting and enriching as they want it to be.

Sometimes I've wondered if one of our teething issues might be because the concept of community and unschooling is not for everyone, and an unschooling co-op might be what this thing actually is... Sometimes I think this has been a de-schooling process for me. Learning to let go and relax. Sometimes I think that others might view the social structure of schools and same-age grouping as important for them -  a valid choice, but not so important for us... Sometimes I wonder if people persisted, the others they are looking for might join in too. Community grows from participation... Sometimes we've just scratched our heads and wondered at it... But right now, this easy go-with-the-flow attitude seems to be working and there's a strong growing bond among families who come weekly, or just when it feels right.

Cooling down and stretching it out after a hard day of play at co-op #kidsarefunny #unschooling
Carrots! #oldweedyones #unschooling #community

For us, the important part is the time spent together, getting to know one another. Mucking in and growing something slowly, organically, with hope and fun and enjoyment in mind.

Working together at co-op #gardening #unschooling #naturallearning #kitchengarden
"Why is the compost warm?"... And other observations and topics of discussion among our barefoot co-op gardeners #naturallearning #unschooling #gardening #kitchengarden #coop

Sometimes the weeks where nothing is planned at all, where we trust in the spontaneity and dynamics of a group of kids to dictate the days and the direction they follow, are the best. The easiest. The most organic and the ones where we all learn together. Discoveries are made, social structures are worked through, problems are solved and experiences are shared just by sharing a space and sharing our interests... Those days set the direction for the weeks to come and by trusting in the group that we are growing together, this learning journey, these unschooling days, become so full and nourishing. I'm excited for what's to come for our tiny group and hopeful that it continues to grow and flourish.

Are you part of a homeschooling/unschooling co-op?
Do you help run a group of people? Have you found it challenging?
Is community important to you?
How have you made it work?

Add your link below if you'd like to join in and linkup with unschool monday and reflect on your unschooling journey, or week or anything you fancy! xx