30 April 2012

Just Living...

and lots of learning...
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Our days are very full at the moment.  I am sustaining the longer periods of time outside in all weathers, after so many illnesses to start the year off we have really needed to restart and reboot.  We have done a few trips out to interesting places too; I was feeling a bit stuck in a rut of going to the same two or three places and doing the same round of activities.  
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I dunno.  Sometimes that feels good and orderly and safe.  But when it starts to feel frustratingly restricted, time to shake things up and do something different.  Right?
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We're on the inward swing towards more mummy-direction with Jenna's days.  I think I mentioned that already.  I'm planning something educational for each day, and being more insistent that if Jenna in particular is hanging around bugging me for things to do or winding her sisters up she is going to get given a chore or she is going to sit down and do something with me.  One or the other.  No third option of continue to drive everyone up the wall.  Nope.

Her interest in history has dropped off a bit - partly because she is still interested in the Ancient Greeks and is reading Greek myths and so on fairly consistently so it feels wrong to hurry her on to the next thing in Story of the World.  Every few days she pulls out her cartoon strip book of Greek gods and goddesses and starts drawing or writing stories, or dressing up in a sheet, or making sandals out of card, that sort of thing.  It's not very in-depth, but I like that she enjoys getting a feel for a culture, and it surprises me not one bit that her main interest in History is in art and story telling.  
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She tells me often that she wants to be an author or an artist or both.  I told her a few days ago that she already IS an artist, and she gave me a stern look and said she wants to earn money from it.  I told her that even grown-up artists find that hard sometimes...
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Anyhow.  The latest thing is how the universe works.  Chemistry and physics aren't exactly my favourite things in the world, but what questions I can't even begin to answer, we can look up together.  And there is lots of scope for playing.  
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We filled balloons with water and measured them stood on a dish.  Then we froze them and measured again.  A variation on the range of expanding ice experiments, and extra fun because we put tiny things in the balloons first so that the little ones could chip them out again afterwards in the bath with cutlery.  We are doing lots of things like testing circuits and taking temperature readings through the day and such like to give her some practice at writing out findings, too.  She wants a chemistry kit.

I'm not comfortable with any possible approach to her handwriting right now.  She loves writing but it is still often pretty illegible - and that frustrates her AND me.  (When I ask her what something says she gets really angry - and while I know she only cares because I can't hide that *I* care, I still find it very difficult to deal with those stroppy tones of voice with gentleness and respect.)  She also forgets spaces and mixes upper and lower case.  I don't want to leave it, I don't want to push.  I suggest practice and give her handwriting sheets with the spellings of new words she's using in her Main Lesson Book...  But I still get all hung up on her "no" when she doesn't want to practice.  
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I guess it's natural that writing would be the one thing I would feel anxious about unschooling, because it's such a part of my identity.  Allowing our children to reject what is precious/important/sacred to us is hard parenting work!
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When our values are different from those of our children, whose decision is it?  This is a question I turn over and over.  In the end, I think the answer can't be given by a simple formula that tells you rock wins over scissors every time.
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How we live is still changing and growing.  Even this snapshot of our learning, I think "oh but I missed out this" or didn't say how I felt about that or forgot something amazing and spontaneous that happened last week that made me thing it's all going wonderfully well!  Sometimes all I can say is that we are well and happy and learning all of the time (even if it defies my attempts to explain or categorise it).

29 April 2012

Seven Days

Joining in with Jacqui, aka the Barefoot Crofter.

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1. Hair dressing!
2. Found nest.
3. Picking up the stars we "played fairies with" before mama got up on Wednesday morning.  (*sigh*)
4. Late night silly baby smiles.
5. Uncle Paul and aunty Maarja.
6. Play.
7. Finished knitting.

27 April 2012

Free Food Friday

It's wild garlic time again.  :)
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Just don't tell the National Trust that once a year I steal their weeds.  ;)
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The pesto is just divine...

26 April 2012

Fresh Air

On Monday, Jenna and Morgan threw a big strop and said they didn't want to go to the library.  I took them at their word, and walked myself and the two littles in, leaving behind two big girls howling at their Daddy that they had changed their mind and wanted to go.  Too late!  (Mean mummy, alas, cannot magic her children dressed in time when they have a last minute change of heart.)

The air was just what I needed.  Hand in hand with sweet funny Rowan, I walked off all the morning frustrations.  We found a nest.  We saw the startling bronze of the moss on the white walls.  We heard the birds singing ("a song of love, and an egg" as Jenna once told me so very long ago when she was barely two years old).  We walked on walls.  We admired the fresh sweet pink and white of the blossoms.  We blew dandelion clocks.

On Tuesday we went to Wirksworth to get our laundry liquid bottles refilled.  It's a car journey, but on the other hand there is a lot up there to visit at the same time, and the draw of getting the solitary laundry liquid that doesn't irritate Jenna's skin without putting packaging into landfill.
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(I kind of wish I lived in Wirksworth.  There is a butcher, a baker, a chemist, a post office, an old fashioned greengrocer with a vegan wholefoods section at the back, lots of quirky little shops... and of course Traidlinks, with gifts, natural candles, fair trade wholefoods, recycled paper goods, and Ecover refills.  Not that we can afford to move - or if we could, to move there...)
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Anyhow.  We went for a walk in Stony Woods, where the old quarry used to be.  It's all baby woodland but the climb to the top of the hill, to see the modern stone circle with constellations mapped on the floor, was refreshing and centring.  And tiring!  But in a good way.  Wirksworth being the kind of arty town it is, there are some beautiful installations on the way up to the star chart too.
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This little one sucks her thumb.  And her two forefingers.  And the edge of the sling.  She is a very tactile baby.  It's cute, and also just that little bit strange, when my heart sees her getting her own comfort as happy as baby could be.
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There are some places that just make my heart sing.
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On Wednesday, we took another proper walk, in spite of the pouring rain.  And hail.  And wind that flushed the children's cheeks rosy red, and turned our umbrellas inside out.  And had the tiny new lambs hiding under the hedges looking miffed at this cold world they suddenly found themselves in!
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Talia stayed warm, thank goodness.  She has to be pretty fast asleep to let me tuck her head in, even in this weather!
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Really, this week has met some deep need in us to get back outside for longer each day no matter what the weather.  We all need the freedom and the fresh air so badly right now!  I have been shaken right out of the bleak mood I was in at the start of the week, and the children are much happier.  Is that because we have all been touched by the same glorious grace of green spaces, or just because they are reflecting my more positive outlook?  Who cares!  Mama needs trees.
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Either way, now Mama has been amongst the trees all week, perhaps sanity is restored in our home.

25 April 2012

Knitting Reading Loving Quirky

I *love* knitting for babies.  My middle brother is going to have his first baby soon - well, of course, my sweet sister-in-law is - and I have finally started knitting baby things for them.  I'm trying not to get carried away.  I thought a nice little short sleeved Puerperium in neutral mustard yellow would be nice and modern and plain, bright but easy to wear, and most importantly NOT only appealing to my insane jaunty-rainbowish tastes.

That was all very well, until I found... The Buttons.

I was innocently looking at buttons on a stall in Wirksworth market place, when some little resin honey bees caught my eye.  I pulled out my knitting, and compared the colour, and...  I stood and debated for a while with myself (and hubby, and the stall keeper).  Too quirky?  Too ME?  Oh, what the heck, it would look gorgeous, and if they don't like it then they're TOO tasteful by far.  Hmph.
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So Paul and Maarja, sorry.  Baby is now the (embarrassed?) owner of this.  Which is now my favourite *ever* baby knit.  I'd keep it if Talia was not now too round about the middle to wear it more than once.
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(Oh yeah, reading.  This week I have read the entire Anne of Green Gables series.  Another Star Wars Fate of the Jedi book.  And The 1001 Arabian Nights.  Somehow I am also finding time to eat, put laundry through, and walk the grumps out of my recovering-from-colds children.)

24 April 2012

Being and hurting and healing and hurting

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Do we look like we've been ill and tired and snappy and grouchy and tired?

This week really has been a trial - and a constant internal battle between getting out of the house (and feeling better myself for the sunshine) and then finding the children still (although not noticeably ill any longer) unbearably manic and/or miserable.  I have been finding it incredibly difficult to hear "no" from them too - knowing how I want to behave when they stomp their feet at me, and finding myself being rude right back at them instead.  Well.

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A whole nother week ahead to *not* mess up.  Well, we can cling to hope even on a less-than-promising day.

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Jenna does this thing where she pushes and pushes until I lose my temper.  What *is* that?  I used to do the exact same thing and I have no idea why I did it either.  Something like reaching a point where you just don't care about the consequences any more and want to prove that you can at least win by not giving in even if you can't win the argument.

Yesterday Jenna told me she was going for a walk.  Rowan was very tired (and naked!) and I told her we were not going anywhere until Daddy got home.  She told me she was going anyway, whether I gave permission or not.  I told her the reasons why I could not allow that to happen.  She climbed out of the window.  I dragged her back inside by one arm.  She kicked me.  I took her upstairs and told her I needed to go and calm down.

Chris: You OK, Sarah?
Me: No.  I want to break this plate over my daughter's head

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We made up quite quickly a few minutes later when she came back downstairs.  But I am utterly useless at dealing with it and I'm just dreading the next time.  :(

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22 April 2012

Seven Days

Joining in with Jacqui of The Barefoot Crofter again for seven days of living.  :)

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1. Violets in the churchyard.
2. Growing up.
3. Rowan helping with her new dustpan and brush.
4. Tea party play.
5. Lacing.
6. Mama's magic basket.
7. The things my children think are rare treats!  Bought white bread, and plain popcorn, of all things.