Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We play! Strewing.

We Play


I've been meaning to join in on this one for ages! Play-it's where my kids are at!

Unschooling role-model and author Sandra Dodd
coined the term "strewing" which is to leave materials of interest around for the children to discover and choose to get involved in or not. At an older level it might be an interesting book or brochure on an exhibition etc. At the ages my children are at I often use strewing as an invitation to play!

So I set up the farm before I went to bed
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Schleich animals! We love them.
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And in the morning the girls were excited to find an invitation to play at the farm
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Sometimes I set up a craft activity that the girls can run with on their own or I find a book about an animal someone is interested in and put it in a place they'll see it. I'm just getting into strewing-and I'm having a lot of fun with it-I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

Why don't you come play at the Childhood 101 We Play link up too! You can do that HERE. Happy playing!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh the pain....

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It hurts my feminist nature-purist heart to see my kids favorite toys at the moment. I think a little part of me died when I realized that the My Little Pony love was going to turn into a long term relationship. And now HER, the plastic fantastic fake-o-rama "woman" that is Barbie. They love her too. Even Harper who has about 10 words- one of them is "ba-ba" which means Barbie. Oh my.

I resisted. Well not so much with the ponies. I thought that were just horses after all. Even if they were very lurid and looked kind of flammable. I saw the imaginative play that could happen with a horse-even one called Pinkie Pie (I know all their names, oh the shame). But Barbie, the anti-christ of feminists everywhere. I dug in my heels. Then I relented about a year and a half ago and Tans got a couple for her 4th birthday. But they were not played with, rather left naked in my path so I packed them up and I decided if they were not asked for for a week then off to the garage sale they would go. They girls did not ask and it was bye bye time for Blahbie.

Then about 6 months ago there was more asking for a Barbie. "Why?" I asked Tannah "Because she is beautiful" she said. Oh my heart. "beautiful like faeries and unicorns" hmmm. "Why don't you like Barbie?" she asked me. "Because no woman looks like that and she's so...fake." Tannah said "she's not real Mum! I play with unicorns and they are not real" I told her that she wasn't going to grow up to be a unicorn but she was going to grow up to be a woman and I didn't want her to think that's what women actually looked like.
"It's just pretend Mum, and you don't have to play with her"

That last bit got me. Who am I to pick her toys? Barbie is filling a part of her play in a way that a rag doll can't. So Tannah has a Bindi Irwin doll (of course) and Willow has a brunette barbie type doll and they both have a ballerina Barbie as they are both starting ballet next term (another post for another day). By resisting I was making them more exciting by being forbidden. I'm glad Tannah and I talked about it and I'm glad I let go and de-schooled myself a bit.

So we have Barbies and My Little Ponies and there is a lot of pink pink princessy stuff going on here at the moment. We also have a train set and a heap of plastic animals and duplo and blocks. Sometimes I feel like I overthink the whole toy thing. They like what they like and there is value in play with pretty much everything. I will not have a pornified fashion doll anywhere in my house however...But I can get a bit more zen with Barbie, I think.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grateful

It's been a while since I've posted a grateful list and it's about time, because life is pretty ace.

This list is some recnt interesting things because I am forever grateful for my children, husband, family, friends, health and my dishwasher and washing machine. Here goes.

-some space from the kids now and again. Being a full-time Mama is hard work and I must say having child number 3 in 4 years has stretched me more than I imagined & I'm enjoying doing a few things on my own.
-where we live. I know I often whinge about the lack of yard at my place and other things but the truth is that I am incredibly grateful to my in-laws for renting to us. A family with 3 kids, 4 chooks and a puppy is not excactly what you'd call a landlord's dream.
-being school free. It really gives us all more time to do the things we love and to try new things. Next term Tannah and Willow are doing ballet and circus and Tans is keeping up Irish dancing. As well as our regular meet ups and playgroups. School? We have no time for that!
-my car. We were a one car family for such a long time and it is pure freedom to have a car there at my beck and call.
-my husband's job. The money he earns there allows us to live the life we do and eat well.
-my iPhone. It has allowed me to tweet new baby photos, get an email on the go and keep my kids occupied with songs on iTunes.
-nice comments on my blog. Love to feel the love.


Why don't you take a minute and blog/write down/think about what you are grateful for?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A new little person joined us this morning

11pm- last night I got a text saying that Bestie was in labour and to wait for more instructions.
215am-another text. Could I come and mind the kids while their grandmother made the hour long trip to take over
2:40-Bestie and husband leave for hospital. It was clear to me that baby was well on it's way and Mama was in for the pointy end of labour soon enough
4:40-I'm home after Nanny took my position as midnight babysitter to slumbering children
5:30-It's a boy!! No details yet but Mama and baby are doing well (and probably sleeping!)

I'm so happy for Bestie and family, I'm so excited about meeting her new little man, I can't wait to sniff his head and gush. I'm also honored to have been called to help.

Babies. So lovely.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things I know

-Puppies chew everything
-Kids + paper + scissors = get the broom
-being woken up at 5am on a cold winter morning sucks
-it is entirely possible to get into an argument with a 5 year old if you forget who the grown up is supposed to be
-if you are stuck for cheap and easy fun with kids blow some bubbles. Instant winner!
-cloth nappies lose their appeal when you can't dry them outside in winter and your 1 year old eats 3 apples and a couple of bananas a day.
-ice cream for the kids for breakfast can buy you and your husband a sleep in of the nudge nudge wink wink kind
-when you are staying up following tweets about politics you are officially mature
-looking at tiny baby clothes is almost enough to make me ovulate
-kids repeat all the not so nice stuff you say ("Mum, the puppy is being STUPID")

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Antici....pation

My bestie is very pregnant.
Like could happen anytime very pregnant.

Is there anything quite as exciting as waiting for a new babe to be born?

I know, I've been pregnant too and the end bit does drive you insane with all the heartburn and kicking and feeling a small person headbutt your cervix all day. But I also remember it being kind of exciting too. Like I would wake up and think "is today the day? Will I be holding my new baby in my arms by this time tomorrow?" And I also remember feeling a bit sad that I would not be able to feel my child curled up in my belly all the time. I would get excited wondering what they would look like, and what sex they would be (granted this was only with Harper, but it was so nice not knowing I really regretted finding out with the other 2) and how the birth would go. I would daydream about names and visualize myself holding my belly babe in my arms. And then I'd go pee and stare in the fridge hoping for inspiration.

As I'm not the one with all the late pregnancy discomfort I'm so excited! I might be called to help wrangle her older children for a bit so I've been carrying my phone around waiting for news-which I've been promised to get at any hour of the day or night.

So bestie, when you read this take a moment to enjoy the anticipation because before long you will have a wonderful squishy newborn in your arms and all the mystery will be gone. Except for maybe a name....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Itchy feet.

I have a confession to make. I like moving house. Yep. It's true.

I get a great deal of satisfaction in the cleaning out before packing, the packing and sorting and the rearranging and assigning of places to put stuff after we move. I like change. Hell, I love it. And as much as I love our house now and where we are living I have found myself on real estate websites looking at rentals, and wondering.

I have even been looking at motorhomes and housetrucks and imagining how awesome it would be for us to just pack up and take off...

But reality is that we have a great set up and arrangement where we are now and no one is going to rent to a bankrupt family with 3 kids and a dog. And we don't have a spare 20 large floating around to buy the housetruck with. Luke is in a great job with another 18 months to go on his contract.

I guess a part of growing up and being a wife and mother is learning to accept when it's time to stay put....for the time being.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I had plans....

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I love blogs with photos. I love blogs with pics of day to day life with children like this.

Every second Thursday I meet with a group on unschoolers in a botanical garden. I love this group of families and I love where we meet up. I planned on taking a heap of photos today and blog them. But the weather was awful. No really. It was freezing cold and had been pouring rain and it was still kinda damp, everywhere. There was a movie crew (!) filming a car driving down a road and they were taking up an awful lot of room in the space we usually use. Harper was unsure about walking in gumboots and my hands were full of her, which was nice.

It was a shame I didn't take photos! Willow was puddle splashing and Tannah was making new friends and there were a group of boys having a fight with all the leaves on the ground. The company was ace, there was yummy food and I must admit to loving how everyone dresses in the middle of winter. Lots of beanies, hats, scarves and jackets. Lots of different colours! Harper could barely move from all the layers she had on.

So here is the only photo I've taken today. A photo of Willow's gumboots drying out after she played in so much water they were full!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Arts and craft

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I was reading this post at Picklebums the other day and it got me thinking about arts and crafts.

My children LOVE to do all kinds of drawing and painting and cutting and pasting and and and so on. I HATE cleaning it up. At the ages my kids are I can only reasonably expect so much help from them in the tidying up of this sort of epic mess. We rent and I'm always mindful of painty handprints on walls and glitter glue in the carpet. I'm mindful of cleaning up one painty child while another runs riot and the smallest one climbs onto the table and eats whatever is closest. I'm also shit at keeping a user friendly art cupboard.

I know the kids love to create and I know how important it is for them to do so but I must confess that i do find it a bit stressful with certain mediums and I have to talk myself into not being all moany about the mess.

So. Where to from here?

I am going to clean out and rearrange said art cupboard this weekend. I am going to do an inventory of supplies and get more of what we like and are running low on. I am going to make a commitment to setting up an uber messy project at least once a week while Harper is asleep during the day. I will learn to cope better with non house damaging mess like cutting paper and gluesticks. I will be mindful of how much my kids like to create and of how small an issue it really is for me to clean it up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hemispheres

Little help??

Tannah is struggling with the concept of hemispheres. That it will be summer here at christmas and winter in the USA (thank-you Disney Santa Buddies movie).

We have a globe and I'm trying to explain it that way.

How would you explain the concept to a 5 year old?

Our newest baby

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This is Lulubelle (clearly Tannah was mostly responsible for the name). She is a cocker spaniel cross and she came to live with us a couple of weeks ago.

There was much pleading on behalf of the kids on getting a dog, there was some resistance from Luke and I was feeling as impulsive as I usually am and was all for it. We know that pets and kids are great together and that we were all missing having a dog so we decided after a fair bit of discussion and back and forth that we'd get ourselves a puppy.

There has been all the tricky stuff that goes with puppies like dog poo in the house and the jumpiness but all in all it's been lovely and we are all enjoying having her around.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Serenity, strength and wisdom.

I am not religious in a christian sense but I've always liked this prayer.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

Words to live by right? I'm trying to apply this to a few areas of my Mothering that I'm struggling with..

-I can't change the ages and abilities of my children, but I can change my outlook towards it.
-I can't make Harper sleep any better at night but I can go to bed earlier to catch some more sleep myself
-I can't keep trying to make the whole "meal at dinner time" thing work when it is clearly causing more upset than it's worth. I can look for other ways for us to spend time together as a family and different approaches to keeping bellies full and me not chained to the kitchen.
-I can't change the amount of money coming in but I can change the way I spend that amount.
-I can't expect to have a clean house all the time with small children and a puppy. I can learn to let things go that aren't important.
-I can't get time alone to exercise every day but I can get it a couple of times a week.
-I can't be perfect but I can give myself a break and do the best that I can.


I'm playing along with The Byron Life for Monday Mama.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The homebirth situation in Australia

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Me after my first homebirth with Willow

I haven't yet blogged about the woeful changes that have actually happened in Australia with regard to women choosing a homebirth with an Independent Midwife. Mainly because I'm really angry and depressed about it at the same time. Women are being forced into a collaborative agreement with an obstetrician who will have the final say on whether you are, in fact, allowed to birth at home with the midwife of their choice. Excuse me while I say GET FUCKED. Before you read on I would urge you to read this by Midwife Lisa Barrett as it gives a more realistic view of what collaboration will look like-not the romanticized press-release version that the government are sprouting to the media which make it look like women will be offered more choice. Yeah right.

How dare anyone think they have the right to do this. I find this insulting on so very many levels, but you know what gets me the most? The fact that they are trying to protect your baby. Like your decision to birth at home means you don't ever consider that anything could go wrong. That you would avoid medical assistance should you need it. What a crock. Most women who choose homebirth, both assisted and not, have put MORE thought into a variety of scenarios, both good and bad. Not to mention a homebirth Mama does her research! Most women who birth in the hospital (most peeps, not all) hand their power over completely to the hospital and OB and just wait to be told what to do next. A lot of women are so believing in the fact that the hospital will save you and your baby from any possible complication that they don't realize that babies die in hospital every day from the same complications that they die from at home, or from complications caused by too much intervention. Of course a baby dying at home is always investigated with the attempt to prove that had the said child been born in a hospital the terrible tragedy could have been avoided. And it will make the news and the job of the midwife will be on the line. When was the last time you read a story in the Herald Sun about a stillbirth at the RWH?

Women who choose to birth at home do not choose to do so at the expense of safety. Nor do they pretend any actual complication that requires intervention will magically go away by lighting a candle and chanting. But women who choose to birth at home also reject the idea that birth is an illness that must be constantly treated and monitored looking for problems. Homebirthing women understand that with intervention comes RISK and avoiding intervention unless necessary keeps birth SAFE. NOT the other way around.

The only child of mine who was ever in any danger at their birth was Tannah, who was born in the hospital. All of the unnecessary intervention put her life in danger. The scary thing is that the way the law stands now I would probably be denied a homebirth by the powers that be based on the fact that I was induced and she was born by vacuum extraction. Instead by MY OWN CHOICE I employed an Independent Midwife and had an easy, complication free (and orgasmic!) birth at home. How many women and babies be denied their birthright to a gentle and safe birth because of red tape?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things I know

-I might not have a cat that likes to hide in boxes but I do have a puppy who likes to shit on the paperback copy of Hairy Maclairy
-if the milk smells funny don't taste it
-electric toothbrushes switch the balance from kids not wanting to brush their teeth to kids only wanting to brush their teeth
-there are few things in life more annoying than tiny baby feet kneading your bellyfat at 3am.
-winter makes my children hungry. I've heard of kids who seemingly survive on air, none of those children belong to me.
-if you think you can smell a poo nappy/dog poo you probably can. Don't ignore that instinct.
-it's lovely when I enjoy the girls favorite book at the moment as much as them. (it's Edwina the Emu if you are interested)
-winter happiness is snuggling up in a warm house in front of a DVD with my family.

What do you know?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Out of the mouthes of babes..

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There are parts of parenting I struggle with.

The seemingly never ending mess that is my house is one thing. My quick and sometimes shouty temper is another. And over riding that little voice in my head that says to me "really? does that actually matter? Just let it go!".

Trying to parent gently and let the kids be pretty free range doesn't always come naturally to me. It's more of a goal than a 100% all the time that's the kind of awesome Mama I am thing. Little things can shit me right up the wall. Like what's with having to chop each piece of paper you draw on into confetti? Or I'm putting the washing away, you don't have to follow me back and forth through the house. And then sometimes I just want compliance dammit! I just want to be the Mum and you be the kid and do what I say. NOW! Even if it's about stupid, pointless stuff (which it usually is) and I know I'm the one being an ass. And I said I can be shouty right?

Some days it's a struggle to avoid those scenarios and I have to walk away before I get cross about nothing. Some days it's all smiles and home made play dough and we go to the park and others it's why are you drawing in my novel and gentle hands with each other and I know you don't want to leave the park but it's just time to go please. NOW. Those days can have me in a flap and it can snowball into me getting all shitty because the baby is putting the toilet roll into the toilet (even though it was probably me who left the door open) instead of just redirecting her and shutting the door.

I mean most of the things the kids do that can get under my skin are no big deal at all-it's MY issue with the mess/disorder/lateness/nudity when temperatures are cold, not theirs. And let's face it all of these activities are learning opportunities. Messy, spontaneous life lessons that I am in danger of ruining for them by being uptight about it. I need to just be more in the moment-just like they are-and worry about mess and such later.

This has been on my mind recently and I have been making an effort to just let stuff go more and think before I speak (it's so fecking hard!). Today Tannah was blowing bubbles in her cup of water and it was going everywhere. before I could help myself I said "yucko. Spit water and it's going all over the floor"
Tannah replied with

"it's only water Mum, no big deal"

I was taken aback a bit by the sound of the nail being hit on the head. I smiled.

"you know what you are absolutely right"

I kissed my little zen master on the head and left her to it. And guess what? There as about 3 drops of water on the floor. No big deal at all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh my! What a shitty day!

So I was woken at the buttcrack of dawn by both 5 year old and puppy. Which I was not happy about after having close to zero sleep from sleeping next to miss toss and turn. I have my period and for some reason this month the cramps are KILLING me. Of course there are no good drugs here for that and nothing open st buttcrack of dawn. So I wait. Impatiently. With much sighing and whining.
I send Luke off to collect drugs, which need to be taken with food. I think under the circumstances that hotcakes are in order. He returns with supplies and drugs. I love that man. I remember that I am having a friend around for a visit in...half an hour. FUCK. Time to shower and dress and sort kids out and and and. you know how mornings roll with kids?
Have lovely visit with friend-really nice to catch up. But have to kick her out and rush kids out the door so we can go to unschooling group. Tannah has missed it and was really looking forward to it.
We get to a very cold and wet neighborhood house, we wait for an hour and a quarter, no one else shows up. Tannah is very disappointed. We leave and go in search of shoes at shopping centre.
Shoes for Tannah are one of my few consumerist splurges. I normally buy her skate brand shoes as they accommodate her wide feet and are super cute. The size she is in is almost impossible to buy. The smallest in the childrens and the largest in the toddler. It almost doesn't freaking exist. We found 2 pairs that we liked and had no joy with either in the size department. We left shopping centre without shoes.
Return home to a puppy who refused to be in her kennel despite rain. Soggy puppy who jumped huge muddy paw print on my one pair of long pants. Bugger.
Discover that 3 families turned up to unschool group about 15 minutes (or less!!) after we left. Find puppy puddle on the carpet and baby sharing drink with puppy.

Tomorrow is another day right?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Radical homemaking

I love this term! The first 3 meanings in the dictionary come up as-

rad·i·cal
Show Spelled[rad-i-kuhl]
–adjective
1.of or going to the root or origin; fundamental: a radical difference.
2.thoroughgoing or extreme, esp. as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company.
3.favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms: radical ideas; radical and anarchistic ideologues.

Radical homemaking seems to me to be going back to the root of homemaking. Cooking from scratch, thrift, home grown and raising your children in a hands on way are some of the ways our great, great grandmothers kept house. At the same time it's a pretty major swing from how westernized society does things now-days. Also it is a bit of a political, economic and social stance to reject supermarkets filled with toxic cleaners and non foods from halfway around the globe. It's a bit of a statement to choose simple living over the ever changing new and fancy stuff out there.

I also like to think of myself as a bit "radical". I was a child in the 80's after all.

Obviously I'm not a purist. I have an iPhone and we eat at the world's most popular family "restaurant" from time to time. I buy Tannah's shoes brand new every time (but I do hand them down!)and I am Clueless (capital intended) when it comes to sewing.

But I do feel like I'm rocking the food made from scratch department. And we are sourcing a LOT of clothes from op shops. We eat a lot of eggs from our very own chooks and grow a bit of food in our very tiny space. And of course there is the learning and birthing at home-about as DIY as you can get!

I must say for all the joy that grabbing a meal from the window of my car brings me on the odd occasion there is a whole lot more self satisfaction that I expected in the doing it yourself. And it's addictive! I want to grow more, fix more, learn to sew and source more things second hand.

Who knows. Maybe the radical homemakers can change the world.

Check out Calamity Jane at Apron Strings for more inspiration.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A post about fat.

I'm fat. It might make some people uncomfortable to hear a woman describe herself like that because the word "fat" is usually a put down. Fat, when used as an adjective describing a person, has become synonymous with some really negative words like-lazy, ugly, smelly, stupid and disorganized. It is often assumed that fat people have no will power or have "let themselves go", it even prejudices some people on the quality of a persons parenting or work ethic depending on their size. But the big one is health. If you are fat you are automatically unhealthy and any or all health issues are directly related to your weight, which is not always the case. Losing weight is the holy grail of health-regardless of how it's done. I cannot believe for a second that living on diet shakes or social experiments like "The Biggest Loser" are healthy for a person, not to mention the many studies that show not only is dieting (in the form of calorie restriction) BAD for your long term health, it causes weight gain. Yep, most people who lose weight through calorie restricted diets put the weight back on-with interest.

Imagine if all the "health specialists" and Doctors and society in general worried more about the actual health of a person, not their weight. Imagine if people who's weight was within the magic BMI had their diets and exercise frequency scrutinized when it came to their health. Imagine eating food that made your body feel good and exercising for the pleasure of moving your body. Imagine never having to see another Woman's trashy magazine worshiping a celebrity for losing ALL the baby weight in 4 weeks in a grueling diet and exercise regime. Imagine not seeing kilos and pounds put on and taken off as failures and successes but as just what they are.

I feel like somewhat of an expert on this subject. I've always been one of the largest fiends in my group-even in high school when I was a "whopping" Australian size 12-14. I've felt ashamed of my body and denied myself food as punishment for being so disgusting. I've exercised with the sole purpose of shifting those embarrassing kilos-even when I hated it. I've lost weight and been giddy with the compliments, I've put on weight and felt like a total failure. I've been worried about the health of my family based solely on their weight. I've avoided sex because I was sure my body would be repulsive. I've imagined that bad parts of my life would disappear when the weight did. But saddest of all I have disliked who I am based on how I looked.

I'm the fattest I've been in my life (discounting pregnancy but that's not really fat is it?)and I also feel the most OK with my body. I'm not as happy with my health-but weight and health are NOT synonymous. I've been thinner and much more unhealthy than I am now. I need to find time to move my body and get some alone time. There is nothing I am aiming to change about the way I eat. My current goal is to feel fitter and nurture myself more. Screw those who judge me on my size.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Holiday snaps.

Here are some photos of our holiday for those that are interested :)

Ahhh Queensland
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We spent a lot of time hanging out with family
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This was the closest Tannah got to her beloved Bindi Irwin

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But there was lots of other parts we loved of Australia Zoo

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We tried new rides (this was at Tannah's suggestion for the record!)

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There was still time for dress ups

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And plays at the park

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I promise my next post won't be about my holiday!!

Things I know-the holiday edition

-it is entirely possible to travel by plane with 3 young children and no other adults and have a pleasant flight-twice!
-never assume what your 5 year old will and won't be scared of when it comes to theme park rides. Tannah went on the flume ride and loved it but freaked out so much the ride had to be stopped on the kiddie planes.
-if you say " we don't usually get gastro" you will get it.
-said gastro will make your parents house smell like puke
-My oldest two girls + a shop with all the Bindi Irwin merchandise = squealing
-I am going to nominate myself for mother of the year after a 4 and a half hour round trip and 7 hours at Australia Zoo because I knew how much they would love it. Seriously, it was a long and very fun day.
-the post holiday blues hit kids within hours.
-nobody cooks pork fillets & gravy like my Mum
-watching my kids play with their cousins who they haven't seen for 6 months like no time has passed warms my heart.
-eventually you feel like a tourist in your home town
-calling a down day for some overtired kids at the expense of a great social catch up day was the right thing to do, even if I'm still pouty about it.
-co-sleeping makes travel easy. Baby is happy as long as Mama is close.
-there's no place like home :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm back!

We're back from our fantastic holiday to Queensland!
It was two weeks of catching up with family and friends (though I missed out on seeing a few people I really wanted to due to illness and kids needing down time :( )hitting theme parks, sleeping in, going out and a dose of gastro just for fun.

I have lots to blog about and I don't know where to start......

Expect enough posts in the next week to be annoying.
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