Archive for the ‘home education’ Category

Dancing can be awesome as dancing alone. It doesn’t need to teach us to read or multiplication.

April 10, 2013

I’m hiding in the bathroom for a possible two minutes of peace before we leave for ‘dance class.’ I think it’s a fairly relaxed group that focuses on creativity, not learning steps, which is great. Going with Jazz and Lauren, which is even greater.

I’ve heard good things about this dance place, but have to say I was given major cause to roll my eyes at the description. It reads like its up for inspection, listing all the things your child will gain. Okay, fine. The bit that was a bit ridiculous was literacy and numeracy skills. Really, can’t dancing for dancing’s sake be enough? Must we prove to the letter how educational everything is?

I hope it’s on there to look good. Like a bit of the old one, two, three, one, two, three…..as opposed to games or dances created just for literacy and numeracy. I’m all for learning in creative ways, but I’m also all for arts and creativity with no apologies or excuses attached.

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Ode to Plants vs Zombies

April 9, 2013

People say, what does home education look like? What do you do? For us, we are child led. Of course the kids are only 3.5, but we have no plans to try to recreate school at home as they get older.

What does child led mean?

Well, they like Plants vs Zombies, Snort in particular. The game itself offers a child a chance to learn strategy, use maths (storing those suns to buy plants, people!), basic reading (‘It says a huge amount of zombies are going to attack,’ says Coconut), develop memory skills (all those fucking plants, my god), talk about emotions (Why does that potato guy look sad? etc), and have fun. The fun is the incentive and the reward, as well as the fact that all three of us often play together all snuggled up in one chair.

But the spin off activities have been adding to the great fun. I’ll write some of them here, but hastily add that I did no lesson planning, and actually most of these were child inspired. I often follow their lead and am pleasantly surprised by how accidentally creative we are, and how many subjects actually branch off from one hobby.

brains

Coco loves medical stuff, and always has, and the whole zombies eating brains thing has prompted ongoing discussions about brains. The skull that keeps them safe, the different parts of the brain and how they have different jobs, how the brain interacts with muscles, etc. and then obviously quite a lot of science spin off stuff from there!

drama

Snort can do a wicked impersonation of a wide variety of the zombies from the game, and we often have fun physically acting out the game. Some of us are plants, some zombies, and sometimes we just sit back and watch Snort perform.

art

Using a deep lid of a cardboard box, we lined it with green felt for grass, and TMD helped the kids make trees and other plants so we could build our own Plants vs Zombies set.

gardening

Snort almost shat himself with joy when he saw chili pepper seeds at the shop. Now we have planted chili peppers and tomatoes, along with some potatoes that we have been chitting for a few weeks. Lots of talk of how plants grow, etc, which is also science, of course. Photosynthesis for the win!

exercise

Yes, I jest, but the ten minutes of zombie exercises the other day were truly awesome.

taste tests

Waiting for the chili peppers to grow is agonising, so we had some chili peppers delivered with our shopping last night. Hence having a taste test of green and red peppers this morning at 7:30 am. Snort, king of not trying vegetables, was keen to reassure us that Coco was wrong, that his mouth would not be on fire. Ha. One absolutely GIANT bite directly into the middle of a green pepper promoted a facial expression that is burned into my retinas. He deigned to lick the outside of the red one, hammed it up, and then watched with interest as I fanned my mouth and gulped milk.

I’m sure there’s been lots more related stuff, but these are the first examples I could come up with in a limited span of time.

Stay tuned for a possible upcoming ode to Angry Birds, which is promoting an ongoing explosion of creative thinking, crafting, and physics. I never thought I’d let my kids play video games this young, but am seeing them as a valid and fun way to spend some time, and seeing the continuous outpouring of creative learning is winning me over.

Weekly roundup March 30 – 5 April 2013

April 8, 2013

Saturday:

TMD’s take:

After some early morning Shows and playing and some plants vs zombies we decided to go to a local soft play after picking up a package from grandma at the post office (snort’s favourite thing to do!) lots of fun was had before coming home for lunch.

Following their lunch I dumped some Lentils and rice in tray and they decided it made a good place to play with their playmobil – this lasted just long enough for me to eat a jacket potato. I’d hoped it would hold them for longer and it would have if they hadn’t started fighting over one brown haired playmobil girl and it all went to hell.

Coconut asked me to make Tom and the orange helicopter (which she’d wanted earlier(damn her memory)). One of our toy helicopters was not good enough as none of them have doors that open… However two yoghurt pots taped together with a door hacked in the side and propeller on the top seemed to suffice. Along with an orange jacket addition to a playmobil guy as Tom. This is all to go with her fire engine and fireman Sam obsession. Tom Thomas is the helicopter rescue guy. While this crafting nightmare was taking place Snort was looking at angry birds pictures on google images (go figure) and on finishing the “helicopter” I’m greeted with the question “we make angry birds?”. What could I say… I had to give it a go. These turned out waaaay better than the helicopter and if you’re lucky Existere may put a picture up for you to see. Anyway Snort was chuffed and Coco got in on the fun too.

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Having watched me do some making I figured it was their turn so I busted out the glitter glue/scrap paper eggs that I’d prepared earlier and they both got busy with these. They LOVE glitter glue and this is usually a Coco thing but Snort got really involved and was very proud of his egg declaring it was for Nana and Pops.

Coco and I played market while Snort played plants vs zombies with Mama and then I came up with a cool way to hit the green piggies off these plastic cone things we have with the birds. A hit with both kids. They watched some shows while I cooked dinner and then we all went out into the back garden, had a circus show, played hide and seek and generally had some fun. Time for a quick spiderman show before bath and bed.

The circus we did was collassal, y’all.

Sunday:

Woke up to eggy excitement. We have sold Easter as being a celebration of spring- sort of celebrating the pagan side but keeping the secular/Christian name. So the kids were informed of the Easter Bunny (okay, not exactly pagan, ha!) and were off egg hunting. TMD organised it all – small plastic eggs had mini eggs in, large plastic eggs had stickers in. There was a large poster hanging on the kitchen door labelled ‘Snort and Coconut’s Easter Egg Hunt Picture,’ and a drawing of some hills by water, sun in the sky, nice big tree. The kids then placed their sticks on the drawing – both LOVED this and got very into it. They then found their actual Easter baskets and ate a freakish amount of chocolate.

We then played/hung it/did weekly online grocery shop/etc. After lunch we headed into town, as an art gallery apparently had a great installation for children. We got there and it wasn’t actually on till 6 pm, so we went off for a wander and they had ice cream. Nutrition for the win. Found some temporary stuff set up for the weekend, and the kids got to try those giant trampoline things. You know the ones. You are strapped in, and your harness connected to high poles on either side. The kids FLEW in the air and both absolutely adored it. Pure joy. They then ‘rode zebras,’ these weird bike/soft toy hybrids that are propelled by you bouncing up and down.

We then happened upon a street performer playing drums and xylophones, much like the first concert we attended a few weeks back. Well, SHIT. The kids stripped off their backpacks and jackets and just boogied down. Lots of exuberant, free dancing and twirling along the riverside. Twisting around gates, leaping along the cobblestone, spinning. I took a video and cannot wait to watch it.

Afterward we climbed onto a smallish boat for an hour long ride. Went along the water section we had been down before, and then a huge trip through the city, under bridges and into areas i didn’t even realise had water near them. I LOVED it. So did everyone else, particularly Snort.

Monday:

Late start due to the clocks going forwards yesterday so they’re still on a lag! Coco up first so we did my last prepped craft (I’ve been so organised this weekend!!) a chick made out of a paper plate with orange concertina legs. Snort did his once he woke up and used up all the eyes and feathers making quite the masterpiece.

Also today we (writing this a week later so is a bit sketchy) went to the shop and bought sunglasses, had a snack in the cafe, came home and had lunch, got the marble run out, snort made mama an angry bird card (“I had an idea and I made it!”) made refrigerator cake (coco’s idea) then had a birthday party for mama! We watched the ballet of ugly duckling which they both really enjoyed and then Grampy arrived for some wild play time before bath time.

A lovely end to a lovely weekend.

Tuesday:

Much of the early morning was TMD’s dad being Cushion Man, a baddy who has the ambition to smack small children about their bodies with a cushion. Spiderman and Tree Fu Tom delighted in this game…..right up until the point we had to leave and Bunny could be found nowhere. Consequently we missed half of our monthly storyteller near the water, but at least Bunny was safely recovered.

Both kids took their pushchairs – Coco with Bunny and Giraffe, an old toy new to being carried around, Snort with a baby doll. Storytelling was like a home education reunion, with us knowing loads of people there – and we were particularly happy to see Catgirl and Artiste, FreeSpirit and kid, and SushiMama and children. Snort practiced writing the first letter of his name a lot during the colouring portion of the hour, something he hasn’t been very into but loved this morning. After the story we played out in the sun and freezing wind with Catgirl and Artiste, before heading onto the ‘pirate ship.’ Totally awesome to navigate tight spaces and stairs with two kids pushing toy prams. I was totally that parent, but luckily I don’t think we annoyed anyone.

We then had lunch in the cafe – I left the kids at a table while ordering, as it was the last table. School holidays are so shit! The world is so crowded and unpleasant. Afterward we mated the executive decision to go on an ‘inside boat ride.’ Imagine a giant greenhouse that floats, and you’ve about got it. What was amazing was the twenty two feet wide stairs with no handrail and a straight drop to the icy water. Luckily an older couple adopted us for the trip down and back up the stairs. They were totally lovely and helpful and we had a nice chat with them.

Snort passed out on the boat, Coconut toyed with her new sunglasses, I tried to not let the burning sun melt my face off. Quite a temperature shock after the chill of outdoors! We then came home and played in the front garden – away from the water and wind, it is actually quite perfect outside. After lots of playing, Coconut managed to slice her finger open on a hunk of glass obviously left in the flowerbeds when new windows were put it, so that smashed the joy out of spring. We are inside now and the kids are chilling with a bit of telly.

Wednesday:

Early morning was Coconut singing to herself while playing with the alphabet magnets and other magnets, while Snort pottered around.

As soon as TMD left for work, the serious birthday present making began. We hauled tonnes of craft supplies into the kitchen. Snort had his very own, very definite idea of the present he wanted for Mummy – making superheroes for her. He worked for almost two hours with total intensity – I cut shapes, he coloured, drew, and directed me in future shape cutting. He used his figures as a guide for how to make them, and they do look FAB. Coconut made a sparkling butterfly, a bunch of drawings. I want to make little books about why Mummy is loveable, and we did make two covers.

The kids also spent some time wearing bowls over their heads and ridding horses made out of stethoscopes. Astronaut cowboys for the win.

Coconut then decided we NEEDED to make cookies as I said it was too early in the week to make Mummy a cake. Cue them elbow deep in flour and sugar. It’s still coating their pyjama arms – yes, it’s 10:19 and they are still in their fleece monkey pyjamas. The recipe was vegan, and I think for sugar cookies, though it didn’t specify. Odd. Still, we added chocolate chips and dipped the dough balls in sugar. Most everything we cook is totally fucked during the mixing, playing, pouring stage, and everything tends to turn out edible. I think these cookies should be harmless, if not gourmet delights. They’ve said ‘Mummy will be SO HAPPY,’ and that’s the main thing.

Well, screw Mummy, apparently. Kids most of the cookies, then played superheroes for like an hour. Both dressed a superheroes and with the little figures. Had a bit of lunch, not the homemade pizzas I’d envisioned, then repeated science experiment/homemade crazy straw that’s ten feet long thing. More playing, wild chair dancing, kids writing and taking turns taking cafe orders from each other, five minute group tidy, and are now playing with our wooden fire engine together.

Let’s not forget that I led zombie exercises. Yes, they were zombie babies and I was their zombie mama/zombie football coach. We alternated arms reaching and growling for brains, stomped our energies into the ground, shook aimlessly like a confused zombie, and did facial grimacing. Healthy living for the win?

We played plants vs zombies for a bit, and then all cuddled up in my favourite chair where I read ten thousand of those shitty little board books. You know, the tiny ones where the stories are heavily abridged and the book is so small it’s tricky to let two kids see the pictures without your normal sized fingers obscuring the entire book. Also watched a cool YouTube video on how to make ketchup. If you go to YouTube and type in, ‘how to make….’ you can find anything. We also watched some Olympics coverage – synchronised swimming, swim races, and diving – both were into it. Snort then watched a bit of male gymnastics and was glued to it.

Thursday:

Lots of two knights attacking me. Lots of marble run, including a nice discussion about how the big round bit has the marbles swirl around just like poo does before going down the toilet. Pipes are always a fascination to Snort, and Coco joined in this am with a song about wee and poo. We also did a weird spot of Snort and I being teachers, with pointers and everything, while Coconut say at the little table and wrote notes/drew pictures on what we were saying. Kids have now taken off all their clothes, bar underpants, seconds before friends are coming round. They’ve said my blue circle chair is the beach and they need their clothes off to swim. Fair enough, I guess.

Catgirl amd Artiste came round from 11:30 till 4:30ish. Playmobil, garden fun (hide and seek in the snow, freezing hands from shovelling in our ‘pond’ AKA sandpit full of water and dirt and gross stuff), Angry Birds cartoons that are newly discovered and will ruin both households’ lives, lots of talk abut hoarding and craziness with Artiste, three naked children swimming in the pool AKA blue chair, discussing screen time and home education, etc.

Friday:

Frosty, sunny walk to the pharmacy. Lots of shadow play on the way – stepping on each other, doing shapes from gymnastics, watching the effect the sun has on them. Then went to the shop the kids believe is the source of all things good and bought Spiderman crocs, boy short underpants, cards for TMD’s birthday, etc. Snort was over the moon to find chilli pepper seeds, as he wants to grow real chilli peppers like the ones from Plants vs Zombies, which we play every single day. Coconut chose tomato seeds. Had nice chats with various people while out in both places, and a lady on the shop commented on how confident the kids were!

Came back and I blew up six thousand balloons, to the peril of my lips and lungs. They are scattered ‘artfully’ throughout lounge. Kids then played for about an hour on their own…I wasn’t watching them, not really, but I did manage to see a hell of a balloon based dance party. I was then drafted in for the weird throwing stuff for them to fetch as they pretend to be dogs game.

On Coconut’s gleeful suggestion, we decided to bake birthday cake cookies. Aka We know how to make cookies, and despite all the amazing cake memes on Facebook lately, we stick with cookies. Talked about solids and liquids, as the recipe called for melted butter. Couldn’t find the candles, so the kids shoved in Christmas cake decorations, tiny football players, a bottle cap, and other assorted crazy shit. They’re sort of adorable. I’ll post a picture soon.

We then had a joint dance party with naked-but-for-underpants-and-old-lady-dress-up-hats. Some
seriously rocking moves. Then Snort found baked beans in the fridge and requested them. So we had a weirdo snack time – bowls of baked beans, and then the kids made cheese tacos and consumed their body weight. Used the opportunity to talk about wholes and halves again, and introduced quarters.

I need to remember how much I appreciate these 2.5 hours.

April 5, 2013

I dreaded it, this day called today. Coats and sweaters and shoes and hats and backpacks and a walk through the cold to the doctor. Loading kids in and out of cars as we shopped for compost and short style underpants.

But all the things I would have missed!

Standing on the path outside the doctor’s, making our shadows do various body shapes from gymnastics. Watching them form and dissolve with the shifting clouds.

Snort’s exhuberation at finding chilli pepper seeds at the shop, so we can grow plants like the ones in Plants Vs Zombies. The stupidly fun trying on of Spiderman crocs, as the kids chat with with a random lady and we sit on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Buying an insane amount of balloons for TMD’s birthday.

A morning out of the house, only errands and standing in lines and putting coats off and on. But also so much more.

Today. Our reality.

April 3, 2013

Some people are making perfect crafts out of all organic materials. We are pretending to be zombies as I lead my zombie babies in exercises – reaching for brains, arms falling off, facial grimacing.

Some people have four year olds giving piano recitals. My kids are naked except for a Spiderman mask and a superhero cape, standing on their kitchen chairs, dancing wildly to whatever song they hear.

Some people serve huge, homemade meals with fruit and veg of all colours of the rainbow. We are covered in flour and salt and making cookies at ten in the morning, pyjamas still on.

Some people are painting delicate pictures onto perfectly smooth river rocks, keeping them in wicker baskets in their minimal toy rooms. Our lounge looks like preschool in Crazy Town, rope nets and feather crowns and six hundred toy cars waiting around every corner to make you trip.

Weekly roundup 23 March – 29 March

March 31, 2013

Saturday:

Brilliant day! Headed over to a food festival and basically spent all day there! We did some jammin’ public dancing, painting, playing, trying on silly hats and gaping at ourselves in the mirror, making homemade juggling balls, crafting, and creating junk art ladybird (Snort) and bee (Coconut). Oh, and ate some amazing locally sourced food….and Snort’s main objective, buying a shitload of strawberries and eating them in one go. The kids also handmade pasta and pesto and got to use a pasta noodle making roller thingie, though we got away lucky because it didn’t occur to us that the pasta had raw egg in until well after he’d finished the activity.

Snort was also thrilled to get his face painted like Spiderman, with a healthy dash of glitter on top. He looked incredible! He also assumed everyone in the place was talking about how great he looked. Coconut wanted to be Green Goblin, but by the time Snort was done she decided she didn’t want her face painted after all. I don’t know how much this was influenced by the face painter saying, ‘And what do you want to be? A butterfly? A fairy? A unicorn?’ Coconut is not into princess culture, and she is sensitive enough to be realising that many people have the expectation she should be because she is a girl. We are always confident in asserting that the kids pick what they like – Snort’s first face painting adventure was similar, when he wanted to be a sparkly pink butterfly and the face painter made several comments and painted him brown….before we asserted to let him pick his own colours! Honestly.

After we left the festival, we rode a bendy bus back to the car. Snort stood in the middle twisty bit holding a pole the entire way, and he loved it. LOVED IT. We then made a quick trip to the scrap shop, inspired by all the junk art crafts we made today. 3.00 for all sorts of recycled materials, including a giant red rope net which I foresee will get heavy use. Also found wicked trays to use in future maths games. Came home to find a delivery of Levels 1-3 ‘Kipper books,’ as we call them – massive sale online (let me know if you want the website) and scored all twenty five for 14.00, saving over 100.00. Yeah. We read all twenty five books in one go, Coconut intensely interested in all books and exercises, Snort probably listening to about half. He played with Hamas beads as well.

Sunday:

Hamas beads again featuring large in Snort’s love life. He and TMD have put beads on the thingie, ironed, and then made them into magnets. Meanwhile I’ve been trapped into reading Coconut 20 of the Kipper books! I then disappeared upstairs for most of the day, so let’s hope TMD will add on here…

This morning started pretty slowly with some tv, books and playing while I did endless chores. Snort and i made hama bead magnets for the fridge while existere read all the new biff, chip and kipper books to coco. Much of the morning was taken up with them both pretending to be firefighters (coco was fireman sam, snort was penny) and i had to call from various rooms of the house and tell them there was a fire which they would put out. they used a variety of objects as masks (mussies, playmobil trees!) and extinguished fires by either squirting with water from a pirate hook (coco) or throwing a red net (red water) over the flames (snort).

Coco had a melt down just before lunch – I think due to Snort wanting one of the 3 green dinosaurs from toy story that we own to play with while Coco thought she should have all of them. And most of the other toy story characters too. Having calmed down she helped me make lunch. We had a conversation about tin cans as we got out her (vile) yellow soup she likes. This led onto recycling and me trying to find videos on YouTube about this. We watched some rubbish being sorted, some paper being made and some aluminium being recycled – this was by far the favourite. Existere was bemused when we all sat down to lunch and, asking what we’d done this morning Coco says “we watched some rubbish on the computer”.

After lunch we went to see their great Nana which involved much running around, disrespecting furniture and dropping crumbs on the floor. Things you don’t notice in your own home. When we got home Snort wanted to stay outside in the freezing cold to kick a ball around while Coco decided that going straight inside was a much better option. The kids played while I made dinner and Snort cracked out a wipe clean book of mazes that we bought yesterday. Dinner, bath and bed and two very tired children were asleep 5 minutes after the stories finished. That makes for a happy TMD.

Monday:

Gym is closed for two weeks, so this morning the kids, myself, and Mil went to a museum/art gallery. Lots of dinosaur bones and exhibitiony fun. Snort did not like the taxidermy animals, so he went down with Mil to people watch. Coconut and I spent a big chunk of time in the ceramics/glass area. She found a computer and somehow navigated around the website (second time using a mouse, ever) to click individual pictures of pottery/etc. For each piece she selected, we then looked through the small gallery to find. And repeat. Was actually really lovely.

We then went to a couple of shops where I oogled filofax goodies, before heading home. The afternoon was spent playing with Grampy….the old ball game on the stairs, plus the newer (but still verging on traditional) game of Grampy being a baddy while Snort was Spiderman and Coco was Tree Fu Tom.

I then made dinner, washing up while it cooked. I heard Coco say, ‘Can I help you wash the dishes, Mama?’ so she got a stool and I moved over. We did the dishes together, agreeing that we really quite liked washing up when we did it with other people, and that we were a good team. It really struck me as a beautiful moment, especially as all day I watched her with her verging on blonde ponytail and pink turtleneck, and I saw a younger me. Of course she is her own person, but today I thought of generations of women, of what I might have been like at Coconut’s age, of what she might be like at mine.

Tuesday:

Em, I’m writing this and the rest on the following Sunday, so it’s tricky to remember much!

The main bit of this day was a playdate at one of Snort’s friends from football. Yet again, another day of Coconut wanting a gun like the boys, and Snort wanting to pet his friend’s baby sister. They got an invite to a superhero birthday party, and Snort held onto that paper like it was gold. We were there most of the day. We had the chance to try Reading Eggs, and Coconut liked it.

Wednesday:

Went over to Lauren and Jazz’s house first thing in the morning. The three kids spent a healthy amount of time jumping on Jazz’s bed, which always is a highlight. Also a lot of rescuing people with a rescus dog to help – Coconut being required to save us all multiple times. I got good advice from Lauren re: a thieving person who visits our house – such good advice the rest of you miss out on a crazy post about it.

Leaving Lauren’s house I had a godawful time. Her road is the tiniest road on the planet. We are talking cars less than an inch away from each side of the car as you drive down, and I happened to be parked on a road at right angles, packed with cars, and cars right up to every edge of the junction. I drive a loooooong car. I had to yell out the window for some innocent passerby to help me, and by the time we got out we were in a mega rush. We had to skip a trip out to eat, pick up Mil, and then race back across the city.

We went to the kids’ first musical and it was AWESOME. I was worried Snort wouldn’t like it as it would be too loud, but he was entranced – laughing and commenting and staring. And Coconut was REALLY INTO IT. Joining in, making the international sign for rocking out, totally involved. At the end was a dance contest on stage, and both kids ran for the stage – no looking back- and just danced for….for Earth. Hardcore dancing, and they looked so joyful. They were the youngest kids up there and I think they represented three year olds well!

Thursday:

God along remembers what we did in the early hours, but we then headed over to court to drop off our applications for adoption. We had a ridiculously cool time. The kids were asking all sorts of questions, and we ended up discussing metal detectors, sound travel, retractable fences, etc. the security guard fucking loved us and we had a great convo with him.

We then headed over to Catgirl’s house. Of course I had a satnav disaster on the way, but we eventually got there. It was fab. A highlight for me was the three kids sat round the table, which was heaped with mixed up piles of craft stuff. Snort was running a shop selling feathers, mini umbrellas, glitter, etc. The girls each had a giant piece of coloured paper, glue, glitter, and plastic animals.

We also spent a big chunk of time outside – some of it erecting little flags from around the world in the garden. So that was a chance to learn a bit about different countries.

The MOMENT for me was Catgirl (who was pretending to be a lion cub, and that Coco was one too) saying to her mum, ‘One lion cub forms a close friendship with another lion cub.’ That shit about melted me. I love little Catgirl, and as she spends more time with us, her inhibitions around touch and play are lowering. She let Coco pet her, give her pretend medicine (another kids who likes the medical/veterinary play), sit on her, etc. All in all, I’m so glad her mum (does she have a blog name? Is her code name Artiste? I think so) and their family moved to our city.

Of course, Coconut also smashed her face on the floor and cut her frenulum. Again. It wasn’t as bloody as I remember the first time around, but it was still but churning fun.

Friday:

I had like twelve hours of sleep, and stumbled all bleary eyed and crazy haired downstairs at the magnificent hour of 8:45. I shit you not, TMD had already done science experiments, art projects, fucking cooking with the kids, etc. I was like, ‘I should not be the parent who is around them the bulk of the time. Seriously.’ Here is TMD’s list of the day:

Shows inc button moons
Choco baskets crispie cakes
Big straw pipe drinking water and bubbles
Free play with mama
Craft chick and nest
Show me show me (Coco)
Playing with cars ( Snort)
Free play
Building dens and visiting each other. Babies, swimming, Snort being Coconut’s baby.
HSM dance party 16 16 16…
Lunch
Visit to T house – pine cone collecting, playing in trees, games on the lawn, look round the house, space hopper, ice cream in cafe
Mr Ben on while everyone played
Dinner
Wipe clean maze book (Coco)
Bath, books, bed

More on the afternoon, from me:

In the afternoon we went off to a sort of local, uh, ‘fancy house’ property. We shall call it House T. House T was fab – huge gardens, lots of winding paths, a FANTASTIC gnarled climbing tree the kids pretended was a pirate ship, etc. They were not enthralled with the house itself, but the outside bit was great. They collected every pinecone on the ground…and it only occurs to me now that im not sure what we did with the bag they were in. That’ll be a nice messed up treat to find in a few months. They also had outdoor games on, and Coconut loved her first go on a space hopper. She has persistence, that girl. Also egg and spoon races, egg basketball, frisbee, etc.

We did a bit of maths while there, with crackers. The kids know about wholes and halves from the moon, and we did it with crackers. Next step: quarters!

The who-gets-your-kid convo that some people have at Thanksgiving.

March 26, 2013

I was sucked in to a particularly ….oh, I can’t think of the right adjective. That one word that will hang, shining and bright, symbolic of the emotions I want to portray. So let’s keep it simple. Let’s just say I was involved in a conversation yesterday.

The main players were myself, Mil, Bil/Sil, and HippyFamily…even though only Mil and I were actually there. I’ll leave out the main jist of the judgemental craziness for another post and focus on this point: who are you trusting to raise your children should you and your partner both die?

Not a pleasant thing to think about, but necessary. TMD and I were particularly worried about the safety and safeguarding of our own unique family configuration, and therefore had an explicit and detailed will – one for each of us – drawn up when I was pregnant.

Bil and Sil have chosen to leave their children in the care of HippyFamily. As far as I know, that has not changed. HippyFamily were selected because of ‘how we parent very similarly to them.’ Meaning, when our first niece was a newborn, they wore her in a sling….and HippyFamily introduced them to slings. Obviously it’s a bit more complex than that, but we can safely say the two families, in addition to being good friends, were united in their love of attachment parenting.

Roll on four years and their parenting philosophies really could not be more different. We are very similar to HippyFamily. In a nutshell, they are still attachment parenting, and they are unschooling. Just like us. Whereas Bil and Sil put their kids in nursery/had a nanny from the start, are often out of the country and away from the kids, and are pushing a very competitive, academic based lifestyle. Fine. To each their own.

But the conversation was Mil saying, ‘Yes, but if Bil and Sil died, HippyFamily would have to raise the children as Bil and Sil have been doing, wouldn’t they? I know we are too old, but if you left Snort and Coconut to us, we would do our best to make sure we raised them to the letter the exact same way you were raising them.’

All obvious comments about how it would be impossible to raise a child exactly the same as another person, I don’t know that I agreed with her.

I throw my hands up and wholeheartedly admit I am in the same camp of thought as HippyFamily – we choose to raise our kids similarly, which is very different from Bil/Sil. And perhaps that clouds my opinion and influences me more than I realise. I don’t know.

But I sort of think if you want your child to be happy, if you want them to be raised as one of the family, then there is a lot of give and take required. The lifestyle my nieces have and will continue to have is dramatically incompatible with HippyFamily. I don’t even know if they could mesh.

I believe that a parent has a responsibility to pick someone you trust to raise the children. Not someone that has to follow an exact script you leave behind (and I don’t know about Sil and Bil’s beliefs on this, so from here on out it’s all me), but someone you know will do the best they can. For us, that meant choosing someone with a similar outlook on life, that we KNOW will do her best even if she may not make the same choices as us.

Would I like Snort and Coconut to remain out of the school system? Obviously, yes. But more than that, I would want them to be with their aunt, who is fun, passionate, smart, and loving. She would offer them a different life than the one they would have with us, but let’s face it – if Snort and Coco had a life without us, it would always be different than it would have been.

So who has to adapt? Does the new family and caregivers have to change their way of life to incorporate a new child or two (though of course you can always choose a guardian who IS very similar to you, and have discussions about these things just in case)? Does the child have to ‘fit in’ with the new family? In the best of all possible worlds, all people involved would live and love together and make the situation work. Because, quite frankly, they have to.

And I stand firm by the choice we have made, by the beliefs that led us to make the choice. While we are here with our children, we make the decisions we make because we believe they are best for our family. And one of those decisions is who we trust with the monumental task of raising our children should the worst happen. We have to trust that once our children are in someone else’s care, that person will make decisions they believe are best for our children as well.

I hope all these thoughts stay hypothetical for all of us with children.

Choices.

March 23, 2013

I asked the question I’ve been not wanting to ask yesterday.

Do you guys want to go to school?

I got the answer I wanted to get.

No! We want to have adventures with our family!

So onward and upward to more exploring the world with family and friends.

Weekly roundup 16 March – 22 March

March 22, 2013

Saturday:

After my fall down the stairs yesterday afternoon, I was terrified my pelvis would throw in the towel. So I virtually spent all day in bed. Hoping TMD will add her thoughts in here, and from now on I will italicise whatever she writes so you can tell us apart. I think they just did loads of playing all day, and a bike ride may have happened. I know post dinner they played in the (endlessly rainy) garden, though.

The only noteable thing I was present for was Snort’s discovery of some small change on my nightstand. He took it, asked for a pot, and says he wants to save up for the Spiderman house we saw last week. TMD and I aren’t sure about the whole pocket money thing yet, but I guess this bear watching as he is deadly serious about trying to raise money.

Ah, the other lovely thing was in the morning – the kids were sitting on the stairs (I used to love playing on my stairs when I was little, too!) and said they were a plane. They decided to fly to Grandma and Papa’s house, then to see Blondie in Big City. This was a vivid and detailed game – looking out the plane windows to see our house as they flew over, etc. Super cute, and the sheer number of games focused on seeing Grandma and Papa makes me feel sad we aren’t physically closer to them.

Saturday:
Kids watched Mr Ben and Spiderman
Dressing up: coco as spiderman, snort as knight – play leading to wrestling!
Coco writing, snort playing with superheroes
Decorating birthday card for Gnome
Plane trip playing on stairs
Visit to Gnome
Ate lunch then watched some shows
All out in garden stomping in mud and general fun but cold stuff
Did stickers and scrapbooks for ages. Snort really got into his knight sticker pictures
More dressing up while watching Mr Ben (well obviously!)
Playing being at gymnastics (all couch cushions on floors and lots of scary jumping)
Superheroes
Playmobil
Sword fighting with wooden spoons (it’s been a knight themed day apparently!)
“Helping” me wash up after dinner
Bath and bed
Playing the bedtime game we’ve played all week: they pretend to sleep and I have to be Santa and bring them gifts
Books
Snort would not sleep so ended up back downstairs with mega blocks and superheroes

No bike ride on Saturday, that was Sunday and I think we went in the garden earlier. But I might be wrong.

Sunday:

A morning of free play for children and various getting stuff done for adults. I managed to bbbbbbbbbbbb trttttttttt b bbhhhhhhhhbbbbbbvzzuuiopitt Sara’s,&@@&@@@@@@@@@@&&&&&&& mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmm mmm nmnnnnnnmnn (

(okay that was snort helping me while we discussed letters!)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm,,,,,,,,,,,,,. ..,,……………l.ll’

( he wants to send this to Mummy’s friends)

Anyway, I managed to finally burn some CDs, upload pics to Facebook, etc. We then went to a friend’s house – one of TMD’s oldest friends, who has previously been mentioned on this blog as Gnome. The kids adore her, particularly her magical skills in pulling stickers out of ears.

In the afternoon I was treated to some alone time while TMD took the kids for a bike ride and trip to the playground. Coco apparently crashed into a bush, and managed to slice her neck open on the aforementioned bush. The story has been told to everyone (we were bike riding in the park, I crashed into a bush and cut my neck, mummy had to get me bunny ) we meet, and it never varies. It reminds me of her broken arm story (I was at gymnastics with nana and fell off the rope, I had to go to hospital with nana and mummy and get an elmo arm plaster).

I was also treated to a new game of Snort’s invention. Both kids, naked of course, pretended to be dogs. I had to throw their toys for them to fetch. They were panting and barking and I had to keep petting them and calling them dogs. We played this for FORTY MINUTES. Children amaze me.

Also had a lovely little discussion about electricity in the evening, again Snort’s idea. We were looking out at the streetlights when he earnestly told me it was electricity making them work. We talked some more about things that electricity powers.

Monday:

Lots and lots of morning free play, with a bit of Yo Gabba Gabba background noise for some of it. Coco then went to Nana’s, and Snort and I trundled off to gym. He had some individual instruction on the trampoline and the balance beam, where I learned a better way to help children along it (I was a hand holder, but actually standing behind with my arms under armpits or near armpits when more confident encourages better balance). Snort had the best time. Afterward he ran up to the coach to say bye and kept saying, ‘I had a fun day! Thank you for my fun day!’ He’s very open with his affection, and I think she was taken aback because Coco is pretty much the opposite.

We then came home, and Racer, one of his football friends, came over. Snort was overjoyed, because he always wants ‘JUST Racer. Not curly or Crabby or…..etc. JUST RACER.’ As it turned out, only Racer was available. Coco was happy to come home and play as well – lots of superheroes, musical instruments, time upstairs in their room doing god knows what, etc. Of course, Racer’s mum failed to put the kids seat back on the toilet when she was finished, which led to ear piecing screaming as Coco fell in the toilet! She was totally trapped in it, butt in water (she was naked with a tree fu Tom leaf on top, very Garden of Eden) and so terrified and my first thought was, ‘Shit! I wish I was holding the camera!’

She also made a gorgeous card at Nana’s. Racer’s mum was all, ‘What a nice Easter card!’ Coco scrunched her face into one of her many gurning positions and said, ‘It’s not an Easter card! It’s a baby chicken hatching out of its egg card!’ Oh, she is too cute.

After they left, more random free play. Largely naked, wearing pastel coloured old lady hats and calling themselves cowboys. Did some Bendaroos stuff, some tv, and just more play. After bath, Snort came in to show me a cloud he made out of a wedge of toilet paper he got wet. He carried it around all night, and when it tore into two pieces he said they were Tom & Jerry and played with those for a good long while. Love it!

Tuesday:

I think we should stay in today, as Snort has had a cold and was up coughing much of the night. Coco also had a weird spell that almost required an exorcism yesterday, so she may find a more restful day good, too. We will see. We have a busy rest of the week, so some time in might be nice! Snort slept in while Coco hung out with Grampy. When everyone was up they wanted to do more Bendaroos, and while I was hunting for an aluminium foil substitute (we are out!), they set up a scene with old winter cake toppers. We moved it into a shallow box and added gold glitter, fake snow, and red food colouring. It’s like a tiny massacre has happened. Or maybe just Christmas festivities in Blood Town. Either way, I hear them from here and they are totally engrossed – their small people are making snowmen, snow angels, etc. Also some serious talk about a snow factory.

The kids then watched a show their Grampy made while recording at the zoo, and of course Grampy watched as well. Twice through, while we talked about the different animals and dinosaurs. Then played the ‘ball game’ they play every week – kids at top of stairs, Grampy at bottom, they throw balls at each other. Kids now happily playing with superheroes, sandwiched between the play garage and batcave.

Loads more playing with Grampy, largely consisting of torturing his limbs into various contortions and driving toy cars on him. He then took us out for lunch (where Snort had a bad allergic reaction…note to Grampy, don’t touch an egg allergy kid with your mayonnaise fingers!), and we had a quick trip to the library. While there, the kids played on the computers for the first time. Home we came, where we greeted the postman and got a package from Aussie! Then a bit of time in the back garden before coming in to warm up, eat, etc. Started The Mouse and the Motorcycle, our very first proper chapter book!

Coco made me pretend to be a sick baby, and sang a song to me that essentially channelled my thoughts from their babyhood.

Go to sleep
Go to sleep
Please go to sleep.
I love you but please go to sleep.
Sleep and think about my song.

Lots and lots more playing, some tv, more playing, etc. After bath time, Coco said to me, ‘I washed everything all by myself. With no help. Smell me and you will smell how clean I am.’ I love kids.

Wednesday:

Some time for free play and tv this morning, but had to leave pretty early to get into town. Had a bus ride and wander along the water before meeting Lauren (does she need a blog name if she uses her real name in her blog?) and her daughter Jazz at our usual museum haunt. Looked around the museum a bit, had lunch at the cafe. Then had an epic walk back to the church for concert. We are talking chasing seagulls, examining fountains, playing under sandwich boards, etc. Fun!

Went to a guitar and flute concert – kids were very interested in the flute and the names of the performers. All three did some fairly groovy dancing, and I adored Coconut’s ‘slow music dance.’ Kids were a bit unruly/exploratory for my comfort (still don’t know if that if a good or bad thing, and maybe I need to chill out!), so we went out into the church garden and the kids enjoyed running around, cuddling each other, big sticks, and mud. A cool side benefit was bumping into – is friend the right word? It feels like it – a nice guy from our church. Ah, perhaps a post on atheism and our cool new church to follow. This guy is just very sweet and I like him a lot.

Came home and I blogged while the kids watched Sarah & Duck, a new favourite. Played a bit of the Cars app with the new car from Aussie. Kids then played superheroes for ages – Snort dressed as Spiderman, Coco playing with the little figures.

Thursday:

Art & bagels morning. So lovely I want to do it all the time. We all ate our body weight (and then some!) in bagels….and 57 plums for Snort. We then got out paper to practice writing/tracing, which morphed into colouring, stickers, etc. Both kids did quite a few pictures, and there was just a glorious pile of stickers and markers all over the place! Coconut is getting really good at writing her name. She’s not tried without tracing, but I reckon she could probably do it.

Kids now playing a game where it appears Snort is a baby horsie and Coconut is his trainer? And the next couple of hours are glorious. The kids made a ‘cosy house’ in the front entryway, built an entire pretend city a bit further into the lounge. Loads of cooperative imaginary play. Lots of designing little spaces tailor made to their ideas. Filling my big blue circle chair with stuffed sea creatures and fishing with string. And in the final minutes before friends arrive, both are playing with superheroes.

Catgirl and her mum, Artiste, arrived first. We had a grand time playing with various toys, having lunch, making hot chocolate with the ‘help’ of a four year old and two three year olds, etc. The other mum and two kids arrived a couple of hours later. Coco and Catgirl played in the garden a bit, in the dismal and dreary rain, and the rest of us just sort of did our thing. Some of our thing was Snort being a zombie and telling me which plants to be to defeat him. Some of it was Coconut and Snort dragging a blanket downstairs so they could hide under it and pretend to be in my tummy. The other family left first (you guys, that mum took another toy of ours and i had to call her out and it was MORTIFYING even though it was a genuine accident this time) and Artiste and Catgirl weren’t too far behind.

We then head over to spend the late afternoon at MIL’s. The kids are sleeping over for the first time, and they helped set up the baby monitor, unpack the bag, and check out their new Spiderman blow up beds. Then TMD and I went to dinner; we were in separate cars and I have to say, I have missed the awesomeness of driving alone in the dark playing music very loudly. Sheryl Crow, a CD my friend Brian gave me years ago. It. Was. Awesome.

Now at home and half waiting for a call saying we need to go pick up Snort. I’m a bit nervous, but here’s hoping the night goes well for all.

Friday:

No call last night, but a rather panicked call this morning asking us what Snort meant when he asked for a stripey cucumber. That sorted, I luxuriated on the couch with a thick blanket and early morning tv. Fucking luxury.

Then went to pick up Coco for gym – she asked if she could live at Nana’s (after I jokingly asked her if she’d want to). Snort gave me some huge hugs, but otherwise wasn’t bothered. I’m glad we waited for this first sleepover – and that the kids are so securely attached. No tears, no problems. Coco was grumpy though, as she explained she didn’t get enough sleep. As I understand it, they didn’t sleep till 8:20 which is well past when Coco usually sleeps.

At gym, Coco had individual instruction on the beam and trampoline. Her coach took Bunny and put her at the end of the floor beam. Coco started at the far end and had to come get Bunny. Then her coach did it on the full height beam (but it is textured and still has mats piled up to beam level for the middle bit) and Coco did it totally on her own, even the beginning bit where it is a straight drop to the floor. When she got to the far end – and me – she asked for hand holding. Still, pretty good, though.

Her coach also got her to let go of Bunny on the trampoline. Normally she suggests holding Bunny while Coco jumps and scares Coco off. Today she handed over Bunny and took instructions. But god bless her, she can’t make her arms go in big circles. She sort of does mini circles by rotating her elbows, so it’s like she’s doing a double Arsenial Hall whoop whoop thing with her arms. Every week I think, Oh, I’ll help her with that at home, but then I forget until the next gym session. Bless us both. It’s a similar situation with clapping under your leg as you kick. I need to take videos of these things, because before I know it, her tiny girl gymnastics cuteness will give way to more precision. And I don’t want to forget how earnest she is about trying the clapping, even holding up her trousers so she can slap her hands on bare flesh to get the same clapping noise. She’s just so short!

Our post gym picnic park play date with Catgirl and Chuckles was called off due to the hardcore rain, so we came straight home.

In the car we listened to the They Might Be Giants CD ‘Here Comes Science,’ inspired by our HUGE LOVE AFFAIR with the very funny ‘Snacktime’ album by Barenaked Ladies. I’m going to post separately about these CDs and others, as we would like to do a swap and get ahold of Beth Neilson Chapman’s ‘Mighty Big Sky.’ So stay tuned! Coco chose to listen to the science music, and requested the blood song several times. It’s no surprise she picked the medical track from an album of electric cars, elements, and palientology, as she adores diagnosing and treating anyone who walks through the door!

This afternoon has featured a group plants vs zombies session, playmobil, another chapter of The Mouse and the Motorcycle, picture book reading, and individual time doing a fun literacy app called Endless Alphabet, I think. It’s free and both kids like it a lot. Then some Tom & Jerry, more playing together and on their own, etc. A friend sent Snort a particular little toy he wanted (CHEWOO, apparently a little squirrel guy it is impossible to live without) and he’s played with Chewoo and company a lot. He has been carrying a bucket of superheroes around and a basket of Chewoo and friends.

addendum:

Snort just becomes more and more a storyteller every day. He recounts long conversations we have had, creates huge stories out of thin air as we are walking along, verbalises very complex and ongoing stories with his toys, etc. It is a joy, but when he talks fast it can be hard to actually pick it all up! Can’t wait till he’s a bit more clear, because I am prepared to be blown away by his imagination.

Coconut’s vocabulary seems to have had a big leap. She’s randomly throwing out words like ‘realise’ and…well…other words I don’t think I’ve heard her say. And talking about shit like icebergs. Where the hell did she learn about icebergs?!

Dodgy week’s sleep for both of them, particularly Snort. Very dodgy.

The one where I was proved wrong. Ha.

March 20, 2013

So….we went back to that church for another concert today. It was guitar and flute, and the kids (mine and another girl we will call Jazz due to her groovy moves) were pretty into it. They did a spot of normal dancing, and some dancing in the form of running around, hanging from stair railings, and singing along.

I was not my normal relaxed self. Rather than feeling happy my kids were dancing and loving the music, I was all tense and trying to keep them confined to one area. Our friend said, ‘We don’t have to stay for the whole thing,’ so we left. I asked Jazz and Snort if they wanted to go play out, both said yes. I didn’t ask Coconut, who, as it transpired, was very sad to leave and stop dancing.

While we were preparing to go, an older man went up to my friend to inform her that we were ‘ruining it for everyone else.’ Twice.

Out in the park, I was over thinking this. Then the flute player came out and told us how much she loved seeing the children dance. She thought they were fab.

I had to nip into the cafe again with the kids for a pee break, and I overheard flute lady talking to church guy. Again, saying how fabulous it was to see young children at the concert and how great their dancing was. The three of us got into a conversation, and church guy said they don’t want to exclude anyone and he hoped we came back. Flute lady, when told about old man, said, ‘Country B can be so constipated about expectations of young children.’ So she was pretty right on. She also said we shouldn’t have let a grumpy man chase us out, as he needed to ‘own his own bullshit,’ and it really had nothing to do with us.

I don’t know what lessons I ended up teaching the kids today. That if they give in to exuberance and passion and dance, we make people angry, mama gets tense, and we have to leave the concert.

I particularly worry about little Coconut, who has trouble relaxing and letting go in public. Today was her first public dancing, and I don’t know what sort of impression it’s all left on her.

In reality, they weren’t overly terrible, just enthusiastic and really enjoying themselves. So I’ve got a mad helping of guilt going on, but it is tempered by the reality that they also had a great time out in the churchyard/park afterward with Jazz.

Also, note to self: when your kid requests to sit in the back row, go with it. Don’t make them sit in the front so they have a better view. Because in the back, you can do your thang and no one will be bothered. A nice compromise.

Because there is a fine line between enjoying ourselves and being considerate of other people… I don’t know which side of the line we were on, I don’t know if I handled things appropriately, I don’t know if my relaxing would have made them more or less crazy. All I DO know is that today’s the first day of my period, and I know that adds to my crazy obsessing! I think next time we would move to the back of the church and try that rather than full out leaving.

Where do you draw the line?