Sunday, January 31, 2010

Midwife appointments have begun!

I forgot to mention that we have selected a midwife and that we had our first appointment. Spikee was so keen to hear a heart beat but the baby wasn't in a cooperative mood, so all her heard was about two beats, and a lovely cord swishing along. He is so excited about the baby, he has millions of things planned, from taking the baby and his dinosaur (the imaginary friend who has come to roost) for walks, to teaching the baby to ride a bike, and having booby with the baby (assuming he doesn't wean over the next few months) having a bath with the baby .... in fact he has planned out the baby's entire life already!

We have been watching homebirths on youtube partly because it caters to his interests and also because we want him well prepared for when I go into labour. Stylish has seen it twice already, she's an old hand at these things, but even despite that she's very excited, and I hear her telling Spikee about it quite often. I was going to have a spare doula here to care for the kids when I'm in labour, but I think that she will be ok to care for him, and we will have a doula here anyway. Stylish has talked to Spikee about all the fun things they can do when I'm in labour, like drawing, playing with their animals, watching dvd's, helping mum have drinks, taking photos, and baking a cake. She has also told him that he has to choose an outfit for the baby to wear and put it inside his shirt to warm it up ready for the baby, like she did for him .... not that he got to wear it.

Full steam ahead!!! Baby number four here we come! (baby number three was stillborn in hospital)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Accidental days of learning

Yesterday we decided to head into the city for the day, we had no plans, we just wanted to go out for the day. We found ourselves in China Town watching Chinese Dragon dancing and eating Indian food - oh, the kids had Japanese food, they had sushi.

From there we caught a bus to Circular Quay and wandered down the length of the quay seeing street performers like a didgeridoo player and a man who rides the tallest unicycle in the world (according to him). Spikee was very impressed with the show, he rode a small unicycle and juggled fire, rode it while skipping, jumped over a child on it, and then rode the 4 meter high one and juggled.

From there we wandered around the Opera House, and into the Botanical Gardens where the kids ran amok for a couple of hours. I had forgotten how lovely the gardens are, with the harbour right there, and the bridge and the Opera House all looming large. The kids were amazed by all the flying foxes up the trees, and because it was late afternoon some of them were starting to wake up so they were chatty amongst their batty selves!

Then we decided that we had had such a lovely day it would be a shame to end it there, so we walked from the Quay to the city and had Italian for dinner before catching a train home. A fun day was had by all, and I'm sure there was some accidental learning involved.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I like my kids!

Sometimes when I'm chatting to complete strangers and the subject of schooling comes up, quite often their response to home learning is "oooh I couldn't COPE with that, I need a break!". I'm not some super mother, it's just that I like my kids and I don't desperately crave time away from them. In fact the reason I had children was to spend time with them - that's a radical notion in some circles!

Even when my daughter was in prison I was practically the only parent in the playground not bemoaning the upcoming holidays, and complaining about what we were going to do to keep them happy for that extensive period ... of two weeks!

I read an article in the news paper the other day about the cost of children on holidays and was quite honestly gob smacked! They were making out like the only way to keep kids happy was to take them to expensive places and buy them expensive food that is guaranteed to contain trans-fats and be completely devoid of any nutritional value. Then the did a list of a day at the movies, which was complete with popcorn, chocolate, ice creams, and soft drinks. And a list of a day at the cricket which was just as silly.

I'm not a big consumer, I couldn't afford to be one for the longest time, and now that we have a little bit more money about we're used to doing things on a shoe string budget so we still do. A day at the museum costs us practically nothing. We usually take our own healthy food, we are members at the museum thanks to my father who gives us membership for xmas, and we don't spend much at the gift shop. So all up that's about $30, including transport, not the $109 average the news paper claimed a day out cost. Even when we go to the movies we take our own drinks, and a snack, and we only buy a small popcorn - how much popcorn do you need?

But cost aside, the main issue people have with with homeschool is spending time with their children, and never having a break. I wonder if part of why they don't like their children is because of the influence school has on them. My own experience of a schooled vs unschooled child is that they are complete polar opposites. My schooled child was often bored, usually rude, resistant to expressing who she genuinely was and often got about in the persona of some crazed little brat who I was sure wasn't my child! The deschooling process was complicated -and I believe it's a long term endeavour when your child has spent so long being indoctrinated, and struggling to be an individual within an institution (and credit to her for maintaining so much self under all that pressure!).

But despite the fact that nearly six years of resisting pink, fashion, shopping (like it's some amazing and self improving activity), continuing to study frogs, stick insects, enjoy sport, and wear clothes she liked rather than what her peers wore, that stuff still rubbed off on her. And when she was being one of her peers instead of being herself she wasn't the greatest child to be around .... but I still looked forward to holidays!

I wondered what would happen to our relationship when peer pressure wasn't steering us off course. I wasn't sure that removing her from the system would actually bring her back into herself, sure I'd heard all about it, but from what I was living it didn't seem entirely possible. However I was keen to try, I wanted to be more involved in her life, I wanted to spend more quality time with her, and I wanted to see if we couldn't just peel back some of that unpleasant exterior and relocate Stylish under it all. Over the course of a bit over a year we have done just that!

I like my children, I like spending time with them, but I can't wait for the school holidays to end now, so we can go back to the museum when it's empty, and the pool when there's only one grandma in the slow lane and us with the whole leisure area to ourselves. So ... for me, it took homeschooling to make me dread the holidays, and wish for them to end. But for very different reasons than I hear from other parents. It's sad that people don't like their children, and I really wonder if it's their children or the institutionalised versions of them that they don't like.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Plans for 2010

After a discussion about the difference between the UK and the USA I decided to make some plans, or at least set some goals for this year. We're going to look at some maps and learn where countries, and continents and big cities are. We're also going to do some history because I believe history and geography are very closely linked ... Queen Victoria didn't rule from the USA.

So today on my way home from the city I stopped in at a great discount book shop and bought some books about prehistoric people, Ancient Egyptians, and the Crusades. Spikee got some dinosaur ones and a crocodile one. They were all $1 each which is a bit of a bargain! Stylish also got a book all about interesting rat facts (interesting to her anyway - spare me from hearing more) which she has already buried her head in for half an hour. I managed to get myself a book to! It's called The Heretic Queen, and it's about Queen Nefertari and how she came to marry Ramses II. It starts out beautifully, I started to read a little bit on the bus home but then realised Spikee was falling asleep so I spent the rest of the trip talking about lively things.

Last week end we bought Stylish a new bike! Her old one was getting too small, knees hitting handle bars is a good indicator that you've outgrown your bike, plus it was kind of rusty. We were going to lay by one for her birthday but then we saw the perfect bike on sale so we grabbed it and it came home that same day. She is overjoyed with it - despite the fact it's pink. I actually think it's a lovely pink! And I suspect it's grown on her too, I doubt this will cause a pink revolution in the house though.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

more pics

holiday pics

Fishing at Questacon, REAL fishing, the spa with some boys in it, us playing which who in Goulburn!

Monday, January 11, 2010

about time I updated!

We're home from our holiday, and it's probably time I posted some pics and told you all a bit about our trip! We had a great time down south, the kids loved the camping and so did we, but we liked the 4.5 star hotel on the way home even more (don't tell the kids).

Our two nights in Shoal Haven were pleasant, we spent some time walking up and down the beach opposite the hotel, and swimming, and playing "which who" (otherwise knows as Guess Who) and just generally relaxing. I was suffering from pregnancy exhaust so I particularly enjoyed sleeping in and afternoon napping!

From Shoal Haven we drove straight on to the camping ground at Eden which is on the northern coast of NSW. Eden used to be the biggest whaling community in Australia, and the whole world for that matter. The camping ground was lovely, our only complaint would be that they had too many people there, but that's to be expected at that time of year I guess.. Stylish spent the entire time begging to go fishing so one of the first things we did was ask the locals where the best fishing spot was.

She spent many hours at the pier casting her line out, chopping up bait, and catching and releasing fish that were undersized. We did manage to bag one that was a good size though, and she killed it, gutted it, and filleted it all by herself (with adult direction). Spikee was also very keen on fishing but we tried to keep him away from the pier as much as we could because he is so active we were worried he'd go over the edge! But he did spend some time sitting in his cow chair holding a broken rod and enjoying the general experience. My favourite part of the fishing was seeing little fur seals diving about just off the pier. I got so excited when I saw them that I nearly cried (I'm such a sap)

On NYE the kids had a party next to the tent, they had junk food and then played with plastic dinosaurs til late. The camp ground had a pool and a mini golf course which we all spent lots of time enjoying. Spikee kept calling it cricket so for the first few days we had no idea what he was talking about.

We went to the whaling museum in Eden and spent a rather long time there! I expected we'd be done in half an hour like at most small town museums, but we spent a good two hours there learning all about whaling in Australia. It was both heart breaking and fascinating. Eden is now a thriving whale watching community but once upon a time it was the biggest whaling port in the world. There was an Orca called Old Tom who actually worked with the whaling ships and his pod to herd baleen whales into the port where they were slaughtered. This worked for the orca's well because they cooperated with the whalers and they got to eat their fill - mostly lips and tongues apparently - before leaving them to the whalers. The view from the museum was spectacular! Gorgeous blue ocean, red rocks, and luscious green grass on rolling hills.

We went to Merimbula twice and saw the aquarium there. The kids sat for ages infront of a large tank spotting all the different fish that we could eat if we could catch them. We saw Tasmanian Sea-Horses, huge lobsters, cuttle fish, an amazing octopus, and heaps more. We also went to the vinnies there and scored a few excellent things. Stylish got some great clothes, and I bought some Hairy Maclary books for Spikee that were in perfect condition, and a set of overalls for the baby.

From Eden we decided to drive inland all the way home because the coastal highway is dodgy at best, and also because we always go up the coast and we thought inland might be nice for a change! We drove from Eden to Canberra in about 4 hours, and decided to stop there for a break and visit Questacon (what used to be called the science museum I think). The kids had a blast pushing buttons, going in the earth quake machine, watching lightning being made, creating tsunami's, playing on the computers and so much more. The end of our visit to Questacon was slightly eventful though because when we got back to the car we discovered that A had left eh headlights on and flattened the car battery. Fortunately we always travel with jumper cables, and after pushing the car into a good position a women helped us.

So from Canberra it took us a bit over an hour to get to Goulburn where we found a nice hotel and went to ground for three nights. Ordering room service, swimming at the pool, soaking in the spa that was in our room, and just generally enjoying being back in semi civilisation!

So that's what we got up to on our holiday! We had a blast and hope to do it all over again some times soon! It might be a bit enthusiastic, but in the middle of the year when A has time off coz we have a baby we might nick off up the coast again. No camping though, cabins all the way!