Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy holidays!

I'm having a holiday of my own-a trip where I'm not taking my laptop.

I'm popping in to wish my readers a happy holiday season-whichever way you celebrate it- and all the very best for 2011.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's almost Christmas!!!

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(my brother and I xmas morning upon spying the presents)

Christmas was always a big deal in my family. We are not religious but we are big on family and good times so we always celebrated it as a family holiday. About spending time together and giving gifts to those you loved. I knew that no matter how hot it was (I grew up in SE Queensland) that my Mum would cook a roast lunch with all the trimmings and if the weather was good we would hit the beach later in the day. We had a tree, usually real that the cat would climb up and knock over at least once.

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(me at a xmas party at pre school)

We often traveled interstate to spend xmas with family. We wrote letters to Santa to make sure he knew where we would be. I remember waving to Santa at the shops and feeling excited. No matter how hard times were (and as a child my family hit on some pretty tough times) there was always something under the tree for us to open and lots of little goodies in our Santa sacks. I look back now and wonder how much my parents gave up for themselves to make xmas day special and exciting for us kids-and I'm grateful.

Even as my brother and I grew up xmas was still a hugely fun day. Still with a roast lunch, now with some beer.
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(my brother and I xmas day 2000)

I feel a bit sad that hyper commercialism has sucked some of the joy out of this day that can be so magical and fun. I remember the magic of Santa Claus bringing me a present and the anticipation leading up to that day. I remember, as I got older, carefully choosing gifts for my parents and friends. I have such fond memories of the whole holiday season and all the parties and catch ups we would attend and when the myth of Santa was outgrown we continued to celebrate with our loved ones.

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(me opening gifts and my grandparents house xmas morning)

I feel like the retailers keep blowing this further and further out of proportion and now those of us (in the hippy la la circles) who celebrate in whichever way we choose can be looked down upon as demons of hyper consumption.

As for me I have the presents wrapped, including the ones from Santa Claus. I'm picking up a (free range)ham tomorrow to share with my inlaws and we're going interstate to spend this xmas with my family. I hope that if you choose to celebrate xmas (and I think it's a very personal choice) you can be unashamedly excited about it like I am.

It's a family tradition that I just love sharing with my children.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Simple pleasures

Every time I see my biggest girl with her new gappy mouth and her new grown up "Audrey" fringe (named for one of her friends who she adores) I feel a little bit emo in a happy way. She's growing up fast at the moment and it makes my heart swell.

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I'm also feeling very organized leading up to our big trip. I love a good list. No really, I absolutely do. I'm a huge fan of Simple Mom's Daily Docket and I've written one for each day this week leading up to family brunch/flight/Luke's birthday/xmas eve. Or at your house it might just be known as "Friday". Having all the little things and social stuff all written down for the next five days at least gives me the illusion of having my shizz together if nothing else.

Hope everyone is finding some time for the simple pleasures in the silly season.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reconnecting

I've noticed that I've been feeling a bit short with the kids lately and fairly closed to them. We've had a fair bit on and I'm getting back into the swing of Luke's shift change at work-not to mention the upcoming holiday! I thought some time together was in order so I knocked back some plans and we hung out all afternoon.

It was just what we all needed.

I put up the screen house and we pretended we were camping

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We hung out there most of the afternoon. Tannah made us a picnic, they gave some teddies "tattoos" and there was a lot of play with their new Toy Story Woody and Jesse dolls. And I listened, completely. And I watched. And I joined in. We laughed, ran, tickled, danced, sang, rested and talked for ages. It was lovely.

We decided it might be fun to make an outdoor cinema so we could watch a movie (Toy Story 3-Tans and Willow are really really into these films at the moment!)so I got the laptop and made the ground all cozy and we watched a movie together. Complete with popcorn.

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After we bought everything inside I suggested we might go for a drive to see some xmas lights. That was fun too and the smallest and biggest children fell asleep on the way home. I carried them into their beds and read the middle child a story and tucked her in too.

I've been thinking about how I'm often too busy for the kids. Or I reject their invitations to get involved or help them out too often. And I have been feeling like it's a pain in the butt to help too-which I'm sure shows. I've probably put more energy into resisting and redirecting than going with the flow and getting involved. These beautiful creatures who are my children are the ones who teach me where the joy is each time, and for that I'm grateful.

This afternoon it was s lovely to hang out and reconnect-and realize that it was so easy and nourishing for me too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We Play-from Mama's secret stash

We Play


It's no secret that I love to op(thrift)shop. Every so often I come across a cool toy that I think I will just stash away for later. For one of those times when everyone is bored and tetchy I'll have reserves to call on.

Today was one of those days and I remembered the $4 marble run that I picked up a few months ago in an op shop. I had to remember where I'd hidden it...

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But I found it and it was a winner! I had to stay pretty close and supervise to make sure that Harper wasn't trying to eat the marbles (I gave Harper her dummy which as least lessened the likelihood of her putting anything else in her mouth while her mouth was full-but I kept an eye on her).

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It's handy to have a few things stashed away in case of emergency-and it gives me an excuse to hit op shops and garage sales ;)

Come over to play at the Childhood 101 We Play link up

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trust.

There is a lot of talk of trust in unschooling circles-particularly in the radical unschooling ones-which is awesome. We should trust our kids, I absolutely agree with this-but with how much? It seems that parents being able to trust their instincts is often overlooked and we might ask too much of our children.

Some parents trust their children and may even trust an author or a forum before they will trust themselves. I read and see a lot of parents trusting their instincts less in the name of trusting their children more. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure that it is.

I know this is going to be controversial to some but there is probably good reason you feel awfully uncomfortable as you try and trust your child to self regulate things that we as adults can struggle with. The two most controversial and debated over topics on radical unschooling chat, forums and blogs is probably television and food. It seems to be the "last hurdle" for many to let go of before being able to call themselves radical unschoolers. I've had many chats with other parents who feel so torn with these particular subjects, they feel like their gut is telling them one thing yet by trusting their instincts they are not trusting their child.

For many the argument is things that are natural to children such as sleep, play, learning, exploring and real food are easily trusted in the hands of their children. Things that are not natural to their children such as television, computers (inc games) and processed food are designed to be addictive and by asking our children to self regulate we are asking too much. This does not always mean blanket bans but when a parent gets that feeling in their gut that their child is having trouble self regulating then they can step in.

So do we trust these feelings or do we try and work through them? Are we asking too much? Do we not give our children enough credit?

I don't think it has to be all or nothing. It's good grow and learn as a parent but I think, and it's just my opinion, that it's OK to trust yourself as well. Thoughts?

I'm joining in with Unschool Monday with Owlet.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simple pleasures-my backyard.

I've said, oh maybe a million times, that we have a small backyard. This in itself is not an issue. Unless we want a house cow..But we do make it work for us and the recent addition of grass instead of crushed rock has made the most enormous difference! We have always made good use of the retaining wall garden beds and grown quite a bit of food in it and we've had a sandpit for a while now but, as the ground underneath was hard and hurty, we've always had to put shoes on and only used the space to walk from the door to our destination. Now we are using the whole yard!

Playing games and rolling in the grass
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And last night as I went outside to pack up I loved how the yard looked lived in and how I knew that there had been some serious play that had happened out there.

Like tents made out of sheets, that got blown over complete with toys drying after their "baths".
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Tea parties and chasing monsters away.
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It makes our house feel so much bigger and looking out onto all of that green grass and growing food you can't help but feel peace.
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I love our yard so much! It's a pleasure for sure.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting ready for travel tips

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We are one of millions of families who are traveling this xmas time. I'm an organized sort of person who travels with kids a lot (my family live interstate and I fly with kids at least twice a year-usually by myself)so I'm in the throes of getting my shizz together for this trip-nothing sucks more than a last minute crazy panic before you leave for the airport. I thought I'd share some stuff that I find useful.

-if you are going somewhere where the weather is going to be different to where you are now check you have appropriate clothes that fit. I've assumed that the "magic bag of hand me downs" that lives in my wardrobe would have enough suitable clothes before only to find out, as I am packing the bag, that I was wrong. Do this weeks in advance to give yourself plenty of time to shop/thrift/borrow.
-check ahead to see what facilities your accommodation has with regards to washing clothes. You can wash more and pack less if the washing stuff is easy.
-start sourcing fun activities little by little. I've been buying a colouring book here and some stickers there to make grab bags to take on the plane. It makes it easier than buying an expensive pack at the airport. Also you can print off colouring pages off the web or pack a scrapbook and let their imaginations run wild.
-make photocopies of your child's birth certificate and put them with your tickets. Make sure your medicare cards and bank cards are not going to expire while you are away.
-if your kids are going to be able to watch a movie on the plane one of 2 things will work. Either a brand new and exciting movie (usually older kids) or the one tried and true favorite that they know by heart. If you are going for a new movie ask your friends and maybe borrow something rather than buy.
-don't take textas on the plane or in the car! Looking for lids rolling around is not fun. Find some wind up crayons.
-organize a housesitter. Truly, it's such piece of mind if you can.Especially with pets. You'll be surprised at your friends who want a holiday!
-recharge batteries for the camera. pack the recharger.
-make a list of things that you use up until you leave so you can pack them last and check it off without forgetting anything. Mine has things on it like phone charger, night light, lip balm, Tannah's Betsy (her much loved stuffed cat), Harper's dummy, vitamins and the kid's hats.
-if you have special dietary needs find a local health food shop. I have one near my parents where they order us in the bread we even can put an order together for my Mum to pick up if I fax it ahead.

I would love to hear other people's travel tips!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things I know

-if your 3 children are being very quiet in the bathroom expect mess, like perhaps toothpaste all over the benchtop.
-the fact that your child likes a food is no guarantee that they will eat it on any given day
-wobbly teeth can take forever to wobble all the way out
-changing a room around can invite new ways of playing in it and using the space
-it's hard not to get super excited about xmas when your children are
-when your toddler is having a vocabulary explosion remember that she will parrot almost everything that you say. Including the swear words.
-apparently you can never watch Toy Story 2 too many times.
-having no doubts about your decision to unschool is an amazing feeling
-the coffee I have after lunch is becoming a vital part of my afternoon coping skills.
-sometimes it's easier to write guest blog posts than it is to write for my own blog!

What do you know this week?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas time!

It's only a couple of weeks to go-I'm so excited! I've talked about celebrating xmas before-we definitely enjoy the silly season around here!

The tree is up
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I've wrapped the presents and almost finished my xmas cards.

The big girls have been waving enthusiastically at Father Christmas when we see him out and about and have even chosen to have a photo this year
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Tannah is adamant that Santa is real. We don't do easter and we've talked about how the tooth fairy is a game that parents play when their child loses a tooth. I asked her if she thought Santa was real or a game like the tooth fairy-she looked at me like I was talking in another language and said "Mum, he's REAL". So we're doing all the fun stuff that comes with the make believe of the Santa Claus myth. I'm even going to make the "reindeer food" from The Organized Housewife . As long as my kids want to do the Santa stuff I'm happy to play along, but I'm going to be open when they are questioning the myth.

For now we are counting down the days on the advent calendar, making wrapping paper and talking about what kind of biscuits we might like to bake for Santa.

Hope your xmas build up (if you do xmas) is just as fun as ours is.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Big kids

I spent a night out on Saturday. A whole night out. I went into the city where a friend and I attended a meetup of Melbourne fat acceptance peeps and then we headed into the city for a bit and then we crashed at a place in St Kilda.

No kids, no husband. For the first time since having kids I was completely child free overnight.

It was fine. I worked myself up into a bit of a state on Saturday morning worrying about how Harper would go, but I settled myself down. Harper is so fine with other trusted adults, she rarely feeds overnight (even then it's not until after 4am)and her father was going to be the one looking after her.

Apparently she never even asked for me! It was Tannah who was upset-mainly because she thought I was somewhere fun and she wasn't going to get to go.

My night was great. I met new people, had interesting conversation, ate some yummy food, laughed lots and drank a bit too much.

I had an epiphany about why I was so stressed about going solo for a whole night. For the last 6 years I have been the Mama of babies and I've spent a chunk of that time pregnant as well. It feels like I'm moving into a whole new phase of parenting and I'm losing that old identity. To admit my youngest is old enough and happy enough to leave overnight is admitting that I don't have any babies anymore and that it doesn't always have to be me plus at least one child.

Liberating and scary all at once....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things I know-the basics

Because I'm such an expert (read have 3 children and am still a functioning member of society) sometimes new Mamas or Mamas of one child ask me questions about how I do it or what advice I found the most helpful. I thought I'd give you some of the things I know that have helped me the most on my parenting journey.

-don't have a clock in your bedroom that you can see if you have a wakeful baby. I found that rolling over and thinking "uuggghhh we were awake 40 minutes ago" or "eeekkk only 3 hours until I have to get up" was not helpful and it made me feel stressed. Of course if you have a sleeping baby feel free to have one so you can feel smug when you see that you have been asleep for 7 hours.
-learn how to breastfeed lying down. Especially if you are co-sleeping. More sleep and lees wide awake time for both you and your baby, and we all know things seem better after sleep!
-follow your baby, not a routine. I found that all my babies found a rhythm that was relatively predictable on their own but stressing about when baby "should" be asleep and for how long was just frustrating. Letting them sleep when they are tired, wake up when they have had enough and eat when they are hungry can be incredibly freeing. Of course helping a tired child to bed or a restless one to stay asleep has to happen in a lot of cases, but it's the baby, not the clock who can dictate this.
-know what age appropriate behavior is. Don't expect too much from your children. 2 year olds have no concept of sharing, babies don't have the mental capacity for manipulation and a 4 year old might have trouble controlling their impulses. And so on. Expecting too much sets you both up for a fall and a lot of frustration and disconnect.
-accept help. Ask for it. Talk, blog, join a forum, join a mothers group-whatever works for you.
-know the house won't collapse and no one will alert the authorities if you choose bed over the dishes sometimes.
-if you have a car keep a bag in the boot with a full change of clothes for all of your children and maybe a clean top for you. And perhaps a towel. One day you will need to access this.
-eat as well as you can and try to get even a little bit of exercise. It makes a huge difference on both your physical and emotional health. But know that choosing a drive thru dinner when times are tough does not make you a bad Mama.
-treat your children as individuals who have their own unique likes, dislikes, quirks, hopes, fears and personalities. Expecting your child to be someone they are not helps no one. Embrace who they are.
-and lastly give yourself some credit. Raising children is a tough gig and most people do the absolute best they can with the information and resources they have at the time. Know that by raising your child with respect and love you are changing the world.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flatbread

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I'm always on the look out for easy recepies that I can use spelt flour in place of regular wheat flour. Especially bready type things. I received my copy of Otherways and there was a yummy recepie for this flat bread that needed no yeast and was pretty fast as far as breads go.

You'll need-
250g plain flour and extra for dusting bench, roller etc (I used spelt flour)
1tbsp olive oil and extra for the frypan
1tsp of salt
150ml warm water

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Mix the salt and flour together and add the oil to the water
add them all together and mix with your hands (or spoon) then tip out onto a floured bench and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and plump
leave to rest for about 15 minutes
knead again & cut into 8 equal parts. Roll each segment until it's a thin round.
heat a small frypan with a little oil, fry the flatbread on each side for about a minute. You'll see dark spots appear and the bread will puff a little. Keep them under a warm tea towel until they are all cooked.
(the directions in Otherways are much more concise than mine!)

We ate ours with eggs from our chooks but the possibilities are endless! I think they would be delicious with dips.

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Enjoy! We did!
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