23 January 2014

Variations on a theme...


We learnt a whole lot last year. Not just about the world outside our little nest, but about the world inside it. As our owlets get older and reach for more independence, we learn and shift. Like how we play musical beds all the time. We meet their (and our) needs.

Last year we explored letting go all over again. Owlets spent days upon days at play, making new friends and strengthening old friendships. It was a wonderful life-learning experience. Most of it happened online. We thought we'd see how long it'd last... Minecraftschooling. How long they'd want to keep playing/watching all day (and I mean ALL day). They went hard. They learnt to touch-type and play online parkour. They figured out some tough mathematical puzzles and negotiated friendships. Oh, they learnt. They learnt lots. And we were always around to guide them (we learnt lots too). It was great! They didn't want to do anything else in their waking hours.


But underneath it all there was this strange, underlying... boredom. Our owlets seemed to be waiting for something. And yet not. If we were out, they'd count down until they could get back to playing and rage if it felt like too long. We'd suggest going out or trying something new... a craft activity or baking or an outing... anything... and it was met by this overwhelming sense of *meh*. They were grumpy lots. They didn't know what they could do without some direction or entertainment. Unless they were online. They were bored, but it was an unsettling kind of boredom. And despite one out of the three owlets being able to self-regulate, even she was caught up in it. It was almost dependency. It was all a bit much.

They'd forgotten how to daydream. 

This worried us. Daydreaming and boredom are big friends of creativity, in our book. Boredom isn't something to be afraid of usually. It pushes you to be creative. To be perfectly honest, we adults fill quiet moments with screens too. We work online. We organise social outings online. There's no time to be bored or daydream. No time to be quiet. Always, always busy.


We had a family chat about all the things we hoped to do this year. It wandered into what we'd like to do in years to come. Hopes and dreams and all that stuff you talk about as a new year approaches.

Big Owlet wants to be an artist. Little Owlet wants to cook. Tiny Owlet wants to be a tiger. And so we talked about how they are and can be all those things NOW. That they can work at them and master them and perhaps do them for a living (tiger may be tricky), but they have to DO them. We pointed out that right now, at that moment,  they were skilled online gamers, which is totally cool if that's what they want to be, but they seemed bored with it. Like it was their job. Not their passion. Turns out we were right.


They needed balance, just as we do. And they just weren't equipped to find it on their own yet. They were ready for a push. Big Owlet was ready for a challenge. She identified gaps she found and didn't know how to go about filling. From birth, this owlet has adored routine. She loves the comfort of order and a programme. Which is, I suspect, why screens appeal so much.


If you were to label it, we'd probably have one sort-of-waldorfy-homeschooler, one unschooler and one radical-or-bust unschooler. But we don't have to label it because it is what it is. And how it looks now will most likely look different next month. I'm being a bit careful about the words we use to describe what we do these days. And I'm ignoring the voices out there who try to package it and tell me how it should look. Labels are unhelpful other than to help identify a tribe. And, wonderfully, thankfully, we have found it.

So we're working with variations on a theme. We're life learning, living and loving. And doing what we want and need for now. Looking out for each other so there's time for all the good stuff. So far, so good.

21 January 2014

It all ended in tears...

Keeping busy on the plane #paperfan #designyourown #spiralgarden

We were recently blessed with what might have been the best Christmas ever. Every time my family comes together, to celebrate the end of the year and indulge in a festival of thoughtfulness and delicious food, this seems to happen. We ALWAYS say this. But this time was different.

We flew to them this time, thanks to a generous donation of tickets from Mum & Dad. And thanks to my Sis and her wonderful man's hospitality, we shared their gorgeous, but modest space for the better part of two weeks. Oh there was festive...

So festive here right now. #pompoms

And there was feasting. And there was a lazy Christmas night for tired owlets with full bellies, all watching moonlight cinema in the back yard. Kiki's Flying Delivery Service with loud street parties, illegal fireworks, aerogard and bats flying overhead... There was also a rotten cold that circulated through the whole bunch of us, but didn't dampen spirits. There was cheap, wonderful food, internet friends becoming wonderful real friends, nights out alone (eep!) and there were lots of adults to share the bulk of the parenting and cleaning and cooking and fun making... And although we were away from home and in a big, bustling, stinking hot city, we actually started to feel a bit relaxed.

Tiny plays hard. This was her Christmas Day nap - before lunch!  #latergram #loveher

"I could live like this forever..." My sister sighed. And she was right. It just flowed and all those reasons why we miss living near them leapt forward.

We said goodbye one hot afternoon, after a hearty Dad-cooked BBQ and then it began...

It always starts with Huz. And the hug. 

He hugged my sister goodbye which started the explosion of tears, which began the unstoppable flood of tears from me, and the flailing. Actually, I think it was just my sister and me. I think the rest of us were relatively stoic and confused... We hugged it out, but there was nothing for it but to say goodbye quietly and hop in the car and drive away from them. And sob all the way to the airport, assessing our options and decisions along the way... And feel quiet and emotional about it all the way home.

But then this....

Our magic beach #home #tasmania #instatassie

Home. We stepped out of the car and all we could hear were birds. All we could smell was eucalyptus and sea air. We stretched out in our comfortable and (thanks to the owlets' uber thoughtful Uncle), clean and welcoming home... The last few weeks have been full of missing and wishing and wondering, but knowing that this is where we belong. Where we can live the kind of lifestyle we love and need... So hopes and budgets and plans are afoot for more visits and travels and, although it's not perfect,  away we go....

20 January 2014

Finding our way back...

Icecreams on the pier #summer #holidays #lovethem Hello. How are things? We've been so crazy busy with everything... EVERYTHING! The last few months are a bit of a happy whirlwind blur... First there was the intense pre-christmas work period with Spiral Garden, combined with the usual crazy busy end of year stuff and all that parenting three children brings. Follow that with Christmas interstate. And then bring home a good dose of some awful cold virus that has you wiped out for the better part of three weeks...

Having a little break has helped me pause and think about what I write about and how. I've contemplated some of the feedback I've received over the past year or so and why and how it affected me... I've pondered how we communicate with each other these days and how online communication works within that. I've felt a tad self-conscious. And the thought of writing something here has become harder and harder. Like when you leave it too long to make a phone call... I almost didn't come back.

Big owlet ponders... #summer #holidays
But this is our story and I can't begin to tell you how helpful it is being able to trace rhythms and patterns within our family. To remember so many happy (and sad) memories and the story behind them.  To look back on a bad day in August and realise we feel like this every year at that time. Or that this was a challenging age for the last owlet who visited it. It's helpful to look back at the things we've done so we can experience them again. Or to remember that when we feel life is moving so slowly and we feel like we haven't done much, remember that we HAVE!

So I'm here to record it and throw it all out there in my usual, unplanned stream of consciousness style and make sure it's there for us to look back on and for anyone who might still read this blog (Hi Dad!!xx ), to have a little insight to our days, if it interests you... 2014, we are finally ready for you. xo