Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baby's 1st trip to the zoo

We had a birthday this week, our big girl turned 4. Unfortunately her paternal grandparents couldn't make it to her party, instead we met up at the zoo yesterday to spend time with them. It was Baby Nell's first trip to the zoo and it was fantastic, our best day at the zoo, yet!

We caught the train to there. Harri finds all the signs on trains fascinating. We look at the map of all the lines and stations and she points to different spots asking if we know anyone who lives in the area. We also talk about what the illustrations alongside the rules mean. Yesterday Harri noticed the "no graffiti" rule for the first time and informed us that it meant "no salt allowed on trains" :D

 The day before we went to the zoo Harri coloured in some of the sheets I had for UnKinder and told me that she would like to give her pictures to the butterflies and the elephants at the zoo. There didn't end up being attendants with the elephants or butterflies when we went to those spots in the zoo. Instead, Harri gave her pictures to one of the members of staff at the gift shop and let her know where to give her gifts :)

We saw many different types of apes, which were a big hit with the girls. At the orangutan enclosure we watched them swing from rope to rope right up against the window. It was like they were putting on a show for us :) At another ape enclosure we were looking in when BANG there was a little monkey face right in ours! It was incredible. We stood there for a while saying hi to this little guy, actually making up close eye contact. Nell was understandably amazed, quite a treat for a first trip to the zoo (which in my experience are usually slept through LOL).

The elephants and giraffes were also a hit (old favourites, those animals). 

This morning we were woken to "can we go to the zoo again today?" so methinks a membership might be on the cards for our family. For all the wonderful animals we saw yesterday, there were plenty we missed and Harri is asking about them. If you've never been to Melbourne Zoo, or it's been a while, we strongly recommend getting there. It has changed so much in the years we've let pass between visits.

I leave you with some of the other pics we got :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Strewing with colours

Today we had our second UnKinder gathering. I hosted this week. I had a couple of activities available for the kids: playdough on the kitchen table, colouring in sheets and crayons on the coffee table, chalk in the driveway, special crayons for window drawing, some books on the couches, and we set up our special occasion jumping castle on the front lawn. I was fully prepared for the kids to turn their noses up at all my efforts and play with Harriet's toys instead, but everyone had a go at every strewn item, I beleive o_0

I can't speak for everyone, but I had a great afternoon! We had a bigger turn out this week, with five families (5 Mummas and 10 kids all up) and this week we had boy children present too. We also had the pleasure of meeting a local Mum and son we had not crossed paths with before UnKinder which is awesome. The community is growing :) 

Next week we're going bowling.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unschool Uniform: Un-shirt & Un-glasses

This weeks unschool uniform is brought to you by one of our houseguests...

For a stroll through a suburban shopping area on an overcast, drizzly day:
  • Topless
  • Summer skirt
  • Sneakers
And Harri at the same time:
  • Goggles
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Slap band
  • Denim skirt

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spontaneity and the flow of life

Unschooling is about going with the flow of life. This week has been one of those blissful times when we find ourselves flowing, life is easy, we're content, and we would not have it any other way.

In a parallel universe Harriet started kindergarten this week. For the first time in her life she would have had to get up at a set time, force breakfast in quickly, hurriedly negotiate getting dressed and get out the door in time and then make our way to her kindergarten. Then, after a few hours at home, I would have to trek back to get her and bring home a tired three year old, whose tired behaviour I would have to work with to get through the dinner and bedtime process. Instead, we've had a two night slumber party and a lot of fun adventures. 

Sunday night I had been whining to Andrew: "why do we have to have the values we have? Why can't I just want to send her to kinder and school and then I'd get hours of the day to myself (when the baby grows up). Think of all the things I could get done with the kids at school!". As much as I love our unschooling life, there are things we'll miss that make me sad. I'm a sucker for uniforms and school photos, the new textbooks and stationary, and sadly, I really like school reports, LOL, yes, I have issues. I was excited for all our friends preparing to send their kids off to kinder and school for the first time this week, watching their uniform photos upload to facebook etc. And I was fantasising about spending my days playing my clarinet, working on my masters uninterupted, getting on top of all the chores that have left me overwhelmed for four years.

Monday morning I decided we would have a day at home, it felt like it had been a while since we'd stayed in. I was going to clean the house. But a friend was thinking about going to Scienceworks (an interactive science museum for kids) and wondered if anyone wanted to join her. Housework or Scienceworks?

I stand by my choice

Our only care in the world was making it home for dinner and bed. We had plenty of food and so much to do right there at our fingertips. We spent the day there, I followed wherever Harriet led. You might imagine that an interactive museum full of kids on a kids day with lots of free exhibitions and activities, would be a nightmare to navigate. But it was a breeze. I think it was because I had surrendered (or committed?) to taking the day at the three-year-old's pace. I overheard another parent say "come on, that's enough, there's so much more to see" and got the sense they were not having as easy a day as we were. We stayed in the sections which held Harriet's attention, for as long as they held her. Nell was happy wherever we were, sleeping in her sling, or crawling around enjoying her freedom, watching the kids and getting her hands on the activities within her reach. If I got bored from being in the one spot for what I felt was too long, I pulled out my notebook or cross-stitch and found something to entertain myself with while being with the girls.

We met up with our friends who had traveled as far as we had to be there, but from the opposite direction. My friend, the Mumma, also has two girls who are close to my girls ages. They were planning on coming to Unkinder down our neck of the woods the next day, which would mean another day of traveling, even further. I invited them to come home with us and cut out the following day's travel. When they agreed, I rang Andrew to warn him he'd be cooking for double the women and if he got home before us to clean as fast as he could, LOL. 

Going home together
The next day we had Unkinder and our friends stayed a second night so that the Mumma could join me in a weekly social commitment I have each Tuesday night. Both nights I thoroughly enjoyed staying up talking to my friend. The days seemed to flow so easily when in the company of another Mum and her kids. Our girls adore one another, including the babies. There really is nothing quite like watching babies communicate, patting one another on the head with giggles and sounds of wonder.

We have a fantastic community of like-minded Mums and their children where we live. But it's world's apart from sharing parenting responsibilities with another woman, in the comfort of your own home. Gosh it made my heart ache for village days.

Wearing friend's baby, while she parented older ones & huz parented our babe

Today our slumber party came to an end. It was time for our friends to return home and reconnect with their Dada/partner, whom they missed. There were some tears from our big girls who do so love one another's company. But the grief was short-lived, because unkinder is weekly and next week is our big girl's birthday, which means there is cause for another two-night slumber party, ya-hoooo!

Before fare-welling our friends, the big girls helped me bake a couple of loaves of apple and banana bread. I asked the girls to "mash the bananas until they don't look like bananas anymore", this appealed greatly to their destructive sides, and all day Harriet has been telling anyone who will listen "I made a 'nana not a 'nana!" :D For me what makes this communal bread baking all the more heart-warming is that the bread is for a friend about to give birth for the fifth time. I'm taking it to her on Saturday and look forward to telling her just how much love it was made with (what good energy she should absorb from this food!)

While it's a lot quieter here tonight, I miss my friends. I am on such a high from the wonderful week we've had. I feel so very fortunate to lead this life. I love that I can wake up one morning to a day of house cleaning and end up having a slumber party with a family I haven't seen for months. A slumber party as a 29 year old attachment mother of two littlies :) I love that we can sleep as long as we need, eat whenever we please, and that we're only answerable to one another. There's no paperwork if we want to opt out of our plans and there's no "you need to do THIS by THIS TIME because we HAVE to do THIS NEXT". And I know that there can be moments of freedom like this for schooling families too, but I grew up in that environment and I watch others in it, and I wonder if they realise the freedom they could have? I know that unschooling does not suit everyone. But I wonder how many more people it would suit if it were given half a chance?

In any case, despite the few superficial schooly things I had looked forward to before I found out about unschooling, I know with every fiber of my being that we are on the right path right now, and it feels sensational.

1st Day of Un-Kinder

As previously mentioned we have started a weekly meet for unschooling families with young children around the kindergarten ages, which we're calling "unkinder". Today we had our first gathering at a local swimming pool that has some cool water features for the little ones. To start the day off we had obligatory first day photos ;)

Then we made our way to the pool where we had fun playing in the water with our friends. All our eldest girls would be starting kindergarten this year, which was a rather cool coincidence. Being into the whole natural learning thing, age differences don't mean as much to us as they might others, so it did make me giggle that the girls ended up hanging out with kids the "right" age even at our unschool thing ;) But having said that there was also a 2 year old, 1 year old and 9 month old in attendance.

Next week's unkinder is going to be at Sarah Patricia's house. She's planning home-made play-dough of many colours, chalk drawings on the drive-way, colouring in sheets and maybe even a jumping castle :) We're hopefully going to meet another unschool family with some older kids, including some boys. John Holt Unkinder is going co-ed ;D

Friday, February 3, 2012

Unschool Uniform: Flapper with sensible footwear

Kicking off 2012's unschool uniform with a lovely little flapper inspired number. For a day at home unpacking boxes ;)
    • Sequined feather headband
    • Pink shirt (2nd hand)
    • Green floral skirt (2nd hand)
    • Sneakers (2nd hand)
    • Red lipstick
    • A dab of mascara on her eyelid

    *cosmetics stolen and self-applied