Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fun "Reading" Game

I heard about this game on Always Learning, an unschooling list particularly for fans of John Holt's books/writing.

The idea is to put the name of an ordinary household item on a post-it (sticky note), then instead of putting it on the item...put it somewhere entirely different.

I had to try it. Princess (5 3/4) loved it. The beauty of it was I didn't explain what I was doing, or invite her to play. I simply wrote out the notes, and placed them in different places around the lounge. She was enthralled in watching cartoons, sick with a cold, and feeling a little bit miserable.

Suddenly she announced very matter-of-factly, "Mum- that says "door" but you put it on the carpet."

And so it began.

She noticed several little yellow notes, and rushed about putting them in their correct places. I didn't have to say anything. Oh, except for a reminder that c and h together say "ch".

And that was for couch...later when she came to "chair" she didn't need a further reminder.

The game was finished very quickly...then she got busy putting them all in a row, and cellotaping them together, then sticking them to the wall. I'm guessing she'll ask to play again :0)

Here is Princess relaxing with a game of Dora on the PS2...she practically never plays it, but thought Tombliboo might enjoy seeing it. She is amazingly persistent when she plays, and on 3 occasions I noticed her about to get really upset because she couldn't do a particular thing on the game. This woudl have been the point, J-Man at the same age would have thrown the controller...I offered to help her, but she doesn't want help- it's her game, and she wants to finish it by herself (J-Man was always perfectly happy to have someone else complete the harder bits). Then the next thing all is well again, and she has made it past the obstacle that was bothering her.

Lastly, here is Tombliboo doing a Pooh Bear puzzle. Thisis the funny face he makes hwen he sees a camera now:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


J-Man is in Kerikeri with Grandma, having a good time. I thought we would go to a library Storytime since I only had littlies.

We were too late for the one on at our local library, so we decided to go to the one at the mall- I needed to take money to a different bank to pay for J-Man's DS, so it worked fine.

Except...when I got in the car, it wouldn't start...then it did, hooray...then we bunny-hopped a little down the road, then it stopped...strange.

It started again, so we got going once more, but when we gt to the local library, I thought it wasn't working, and we had better call the AA.

I got out some books, and we had our own little Storytime in the car. I was very embarrassed to find that there was nothing wrong with the car battery- I was out of petrol.

I've never done anything that dopey before. In my own defense I will say that we have regularly gone 70kms after the orange (fuel) light has gone on, and it was only on 40km. I had even decided, since we were running late for the Storytime, not to get petrol on the way, but I would fill up on the way home. I could have done so yesterday, but judging by the clock, I didn't have any need to, and since it was pouring down- I didn't bother.

Well...that was embarrassing, and made worse by the (very sweet) mechanic, who looked at me in amusement as though this is something I probably do on a regular sort of a basis.

We got to the mall eventually, and got some lunch. We went to the toyshop to get the next piece in the My Little Pony Ponyville collection. Princess has the entire set, almost all of which she has paid for herself. Tombliboo amused himself with Bob the Builder balls, and a bigger-than-mini trampoline in-store. Princess aas a tendency to hover over him, and chase him wherever he goes, trying to pull him the way she feels he ought to go.

It is quite frustrating for me, and immensely so for her very-independent brother. No amount of remonstrating with her seems to sink in. Tombliboo is decidedly against being told very much at all, and is more inclined to do the opposite. I treat him with gentleness- following behind, and gently guiding him when we need to leave. I'm not entirely sure why Princess feels she needs to do things differently. I'm almost 100% certain she wouldn't like to be bossed around in the same way. It is funny that she acts like a mother to him, but so unlike his own mother.

He amuses other shoppers with his sweet antics. He "oohs' and "ahhhs" and "woahs" over all kinds of things. He also loves to smell the flowers at he florist, which looks insanely cute. He also squeals and giggles with delight as he runs from store to store...or will stop and deliberately step in ever square on the floor. I both love, and hate to go shopping with him :0) But today was fun- I wasn't in a hurry, I was happy to go at toddler speed, stopping to look at anything and everything that took his fancy.

We got home in time to watch Diego, which they both love. Tombliboo fell asleep soon after, and Princess got busy drawing and colouring parrots. She had a plan in mind, which shared with me later, and the result of which is now on her door (see photo above).

She hopped in to bed early, when it wasn't working out quite as she'd like, and Tombliboo joined her. That sorted the upset out very quickly, and now they are both happily playing with tiny ponies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Week

All my good intentions of blogging regularly have turned to nought. Mostly, I was busy with other things, and our camera hasn't been working and I didn't want to post somehting without a photo!

We've finally discovered that the little beast (our camera) that kept screaming "Change the batteries" as soon as they were changed...actually meant another little battery we weren't aware of...sigh...just when i was about to return the useless item. So, all is well on that front, hooray!

We have been very busy...I started this post last night, and saved it as a draft- but today I can't edit it. I've been to the help, and seen that lots of people have the same problem, but noone has a I am having to re-type the whole thing which doesn't please me much, as you can imagine.

J-Man has been busy scouring his Pokedex to find which pokemon evolve in to the best ones, and trying to find them on his game. He's also been looking in to DS accessories online, and creating a slideshow of his wish-list.

His big news is that we are getting a DS for him this week. I nearly bought it today, but they were out of stock. That turned out to be fortuitous, because I have instead found a month-old white DS Lite on Trade Me for the same price, but including the very game he was most after- Pokemon Pearl...hooray!

I have wanted to play with him for such a long time, but I am not good at playing...or rather, the games he most wants me to play involve a lot of time, where I only really have snippets of time here and there.

He had hives on Friday, we suspect from some (chemically) coloured lollies from the dairy. he was a mess, poor fellow...but he cheered up in the afternoon, and we played Adventurequest together. It really bored me, I have to is basically a "click Attack until the baddie dies, then move on to the next one to do the same thing" kind of game, and extremely dull.

I started playing a game on Facebook. I have been playing Scrabulous (Scrabble) on there this year, and I love it. But now I've found a new game (also on Facebook) quite different to anything I've played before, and I am loving it. This is only after 2 or 3 days, I suspect I will get bored quickly- but for now, I really like it.

J-Man laughed at me for a while, saying it was a stupid game. But then we had a lovely evening together when everyone else decided to sleep early...he started to play, and discovered he quite liked it as well. It's called Packrat btw, and the more friends who play it the better it will be...hint, hint :0)

Now he's gone to Kerikeri to stay with Grandma and Poppy for a week! I miss him so much, and can't wait until he gets on Packrat so we can chat. They had a power cut last night, so the dinner that was being cooked had to be finished on the BBQ! It came back on in time fro them to watch a Harry Potter movie together.

I'll be using the days without my "big boy" to take the little ones to as many "little ones" activities as possible.

Meanwhile, Princess has been busy drawing and watching lots of her favourite cartoons. She's discovered Tom and Jerry, and I hear her giggling uproariously quite regularly. I had her do a reading test online. It only took a minute or two, and I was surprised to find her "reading age" is higher than her chronological one. I did a similar test for J-Man at the same age, and his "reading age" was approximately double his chronological age- no wonder he always seemed so very different to children his own age.

It's not important, I know, but it was interesting to me. Princess wasn't aware she was being tested- I simply asked, "Can you read this word?", etc. She is not reading yet- she has been able to read (small, phonetic) words for years, but she is generally not confident about it- so I don't normally ask her.

She's been making Lego rooms (of houses) the last couple of days, and we have read a fairy book and Akimbo and the Snakes (which she enjoyed immensely).

her big news was that she had a day of filming on Friday. Grandma was in town (looking after her Mum post-operatively), so she took Princess for the day. As a child actor, she is only allowed to work for 6 hours. It took the whole time for her to do her part in a 10 or 15 second ad. It won;t be screened on television- it was for an assignment for film students.

The cool thing about it was that she didn't have to have an audition- she was chosen from her photo. It doesn't pay well *at all*, but Princess would have happily worked for free- she loved the whole experience, and was very excited before, during and afterward. It might have been a very boring day for Grandma, but I think she found (as I did) that the whole thing is fascinating.

Tombliboo (19 months) has been doing all the things he usually does...he's been finding new places to explore, and will call out ,"Look Mama", for me to come see where hes got himself this time. I don't know how we've avoided the A&E with this child.

He's been bringing me plastic animals and pointing our their butts, which is delightful. He loves to say "butt"" or "bum", and it is rather cute really. Occasionally he'll point out eyes or ears, or noses, but he by far prefers the other parts.

He has started doing puzzles now, just the little ones with pegs on top. He asks for the bigger puzzles ("pu-joule"), but only likes to tip all the pieces out. Interestingly, once after he put the pieces of the peg puzzle in, he tipped them all out, turned the wooden frame over, and placed all the pieces neatly on the back. I don't remember the other kids doing that, but it amused me- because it sure was a lot less frustrating to him than having the pieces need to fit.

He has started to count up to three...he says "one, two..." and then a word which he uses in place of words he can't (or doesn't want to) say. He has been to the potty without anyone mentioning it twice this week.

We had a young (out-of-town) unschooler over for a day (A4, nearly 5) and that was a tonne of fun. He and Princess got on very well indeed, and our little friend didn't want to go home. Hopefully we can repeat the day soon!

Grandma visited thrice, and I did a Creative Memories class while dh looked after the kids.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Letting Go

We needed to return some dvd's today. I thought J-Man wouldn't be keen to walk, and I am trying not to use the car unless we really have to. (The video shop is about a 5 minute brisk walk from our home, 10 if we want to dawdle).

It suddenly occurred to me that he might like to go by himself. It surprised me that I hadn't thought of that before...he's almost 9 1/2.

I can't remember being 9, but I think I walked to school with a few neigbours from when I was 5 years old. The eldest of the bunch of us was not more than 2 years older than me. It was not "5 miles away", and I didn't "walk barefoot in the snow"...but it was a pretty long way now that I think of it. It was across loads of streets, 2 of which were very busy.

But I digress.

The main reason I hadn't considered sending my baby out on his own is that we live in one of the worst parts of Auckland. 3 people have been murdered in this general area in the last couple of weeks. It's not a place I particularly feel safe in. That has made a difference to my willingness to let go.

But today I thought he might enjoy some time alone. He might enjoy being thought of as responsible and mature (which he is). If he could be back before 3pm when the (piles of) school-kids (with rarely a parent in sight) were set free, I thought it just might work.

I asked J-Man if he would like to walk to the videoshop to return our dvd's. He thought he would like was more of a "Hell yes!" response really and I wondered if I had held back just a tad too long.

I would never have thought I was molly-coddling him, as people are so quick to accuse homeschoolers of. Surely I haven't been?

Anyway- it was decided- he would take the movies back...first he would have to get dressed, lol. And that meant I could carry on doing the things I was doing, and didn't have to dress Tombliboo (who doesn't really like to wear clothing). I could stay in my fluffy pink slippers! (Not that I haven't seen slipper-clad women at hte supermarket on numerous occasions).

Then I was thrown for a loop...

"Can I take Princess?"

Eeek! What's that you said? You want to take my 5 year old with you on this adventure?

2 very eager little faces...there was only one response.

"Of course Darling."

I've never seen them get dressed so fast.

They found a bag to put the dvd's in, and checked each box to make sure the discs hadn't disappeared. I gave them $1 each to buy something at the dairy, and $1 to buy me something chocolatey.

They kissed their baby brother and I goodbye, and were on their way. J-Man turned to wave to Tombliboo and I (on the porch, looking for all the world as though we were parting for a week), and called out, "Have fun without us."

I called back only half-joking, "I won't! I'll be worried about you, and missing you."

He laughed...silly old mum.

They got back before school was out- it had been an uneventful, and yet exciting walk. They gave me a quick hug and carried on with their lives. Evidently it was no big deal (for them).

It feels kind of strange in way that this sort of thing could be acceptable, could even be a regular thing, could add to their friendship and give them even more to talk about. It feels kinda strange, but kinda nice as well.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Typical Unschooling Day

Well, there is no such thing as a typical unschooling day- just as there is really no typical anything-sort-of day with young children.

My day began at 8am...that's really late for us. Tombliboo has taken to having a longish stretch of sleep (4 hours, hooray), and then waking and feeding fairly consistently every 45 minutes or so until he gets up fro the day. It's quite draining, but that long sleep is blissful...if I could just sleep the whole time as well.

It was 9am before we were showered and dressed, and really ready to start the day- Daddy had lost his keys, and couldn't leave for work- so we were searching high and low until they turned up.

It took me a long time (as it has been for the last week or so) to calm Tombliboo after Daddy left for work. He gets so very brokenhearted- it;s lovely in a way, but so sad. At this point, dh has no interest whatsoever in working from home, but maybe one day...

I didn't have many e-mails to read/reply to, since I was up until past midnight last night- when I was tired, but Tombliboo was not.

I helped a lady new to home education (over the phone), and played a few moves of Scrabble, while Tombliboo watched a Maisy DVD. Princess woke up at 9:30am, and asked for rice bubbles for breakfast. Tombliboo went to get them for her.

Then, I got busy tidying up the giant mess in our house- it;s always atrocious after the weekend, and makes me feel all gloomy- since it seems like I work hard at keeping things in order all weekend, and obviously fail miserably.

I've vacuumed the whole house, after putting away everything in the lounge. I've tidied the study nearly completely. I tidied J-Man's room a bit, and brought in all the washing- folded it and put it all away. I've done the hell-pile of dishes, and dried and put those away too. Hooray.

J-Man didn't wake up until 12pm, and only then because i needed him to help me make the spare tv go. I love that he doesn't have to get up at any time...that he can sleep as long as his body needs.

He has spent most of the day so far (3pm) playing World of Warcraft. He showed me what he is up to. He has 3 characters (all different races) that he is playing at once...well, he can only play two at once, on two accounts. He puts orc items up for auction for a low price, then has his night elf or human purchase them then sell them on for far more.

He has also been reading a book about Samurai Castles. He played with Tombliboo and got him giggling, and helped me make lunch(toasted sandwiches...we all have something different inside).

Princess has been watching her favourite shows on Sky, and playing with her little ponies. After a while she moved everything she needed in to her room, so Tombliboo couldn't destroy it.

She looked at books, and made a little basket out of paper (and piles of cellotape) for Tombliboo. She made a house out of blocks for Tombliboo to crash, and helped me with the vacuuming.

She asked me if I would rather have $900 or Daddy, and I replied with the answer she was hoping for...which sent her off on her merry way.

It's been pouring down today, so they have not been outside. Well, except for Tombliboo- who enjoyed bending his head over the porch so he could get the droplets on his baby head.

"Raining...outside...touch...cold", he says, and I know just what he means.

I found some missing dvd's which he has been posting through the gaps between planks of wood on our back porch...luckily they are not too badly off.

Right now, Tombliboo has gone to sleep, so we are going to start a game on the magically-cleared kitchen table. It's been a long time since we played a game.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Weekend

We haven't used the car this weekend- we have been very environmentally-conscious :0)

Princess and I walked to the supermarket for more groceries, and new library books. We didn't eat meat...well, dh and I had some pea and ham soup actually- but our dinners were meat-free.

I made nachos out of lentils and beans- they were delicious. Grandma came for dinner, and she is used to eating meat, but said they weren't too bad.

We all played a game with Grandma. J-Man has played WoW, and Pokemon Sapphire on his gameboy. He spent an hour and a half making WoW wallpaper for a laptop Daddy has brought home from work. HE had his first tvc audition in ages, and then went with Daddy to pick up his new (second-hand) bed...oh I just remembered we did use the car...nuts! Well, I didn't, lol.

J-Man and Daddy are setting up "twins" in Sims, trying to make their characters exactly alike.

We moved his room around to accommodate the new bed, and put the old one on top of Princess' bunkbed.

Princess has done lots of drawing, and made a number chart- numbers 1-12 and corresponding pictures/numbers of items. She asked me to make her a puzzle, and I made her a word-find where she had to match the word with a picture then find it on the grid. She was miffed my looked more like a jug, and showed me the correct way to draw a book :0)

Later she wanted me to make her a scavenger hunt, which I also did. I gave her written clues like "Something red", and "something big". We haven't done that for a long time, and it was a lot of fun for her. We began reading Akimbo and the Snakes and she helped me fold washing (and enjoyed it), and make pancakes, and a pudding.

Tombliboo has been a busy boy, as always- doing a million things, and making many of the same messes he likes to make every day. I am forever having this feeling of deja vu...did I not just pick these puzzles pieces up? Yes, indeed I did- more fool me for putting them back in the same place so they could be tipped out yet again...sigh...I'm learning...just not, it would seem, as quickly as my children.

Grandma brought over a new set of (huge) shelves...I can't believe how good they look- suddenly two shelf-spaces have been transformed ,and far better utilised than before. I have spare room on these shelves...brilliant!

I've got plenty done, and played lots of scrabble as well...nice :0)

We're thinking about getting blood tests to discern whether or not we are gluten-sensitive...we know J-Man is sensitive to wheat, and so is Tombliboo...but we haven't checked properly.

We're also waiting to hear if Princess will be filmed for a student production (not televised) this week. She is very excited about the possibility.

Funny Reading Story

Princess isn't reading yet...she's been able to read words since before she was 2, but hasn't really progressed any. Sometimes it looks as if she is on the verge of getting it, then we see no such sign for months and months.

Sadly, she seems have all the tools necessary,but she lacks confidence for some reason.

Anyway, a few months ago we had another little girl over to play. She sat on the couch with a library book, and Princess sat next to her (always eager to hear a story). I was making dinner, and listened to their conversation.

The reading was interrupted when Princess said, "No- it doesn't say that, it says this (can't remember what it was)".

Our little friend said, "You don't know- I'm seven and I go to school, and you're only five".

Princess replied, "But you didn't read it right."

Our friend said, "Well you don;t even know because you can't read!"

Princess replied, "I know"

I was really pleased a while ago when we did an interview about homeschooling for a lady doing a phD. Somewhere in amongst the questions, Princess said, 'I'm my own teacher- I taught myself to read and count".

I was really pleased she was so sure of herself. She's normally the first one to say she *can't*.

Last night, we played a game with questions, and she wanted to look at the card.

She insisted, 'It's OK mum- I can look at the card because I can't read!"

"Then what would be the point of looking at it?" I giggled.

I loved watching J-Man learn to read, and I am loving watching Princess as well. It is said so often, but remains true...two people with such a lot of similar genetic make-up can be *so* different.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Say "Hello"

I just love seeing people from all over the world stopping by here...I'd love it even more if I knew who you were!

Leave a comment- it;s easy...and I'd love to hear from you :0)

You can get your own feedjit thingee for your blog here.

The Sky Fog is Lifting...

It's been nearly a month since we got Sky TV (some 20 or so channels, where we previously only had 3).

I expected "binging"...I expected it would be so exciting that the kids would want to watch more tv than usual.

I wasn't wait- I was disappointed...oh I don't know! They watched was literally on for the *whole* day...from when one child got up until they went to bed.

There is so much on at any one time that *could* be interesting. I felt dismayed.

I wondered if they would ever find other things to do. Even J-Man, who traditionally doesn't like to see things twice, was sitting through the same cartoon he saw the day or week before.

This is the boy that despite everything I read about toddlers (and have seen with his siblings) would *not* have the same book read to him twice. He had some sort of system going with library books- he always knew when he had had one of them read to him, and would decline my offer to take it out. On 3 or 4 occasions I remonstrated with him- that in fact, we had *not* had this book before, but I trusted my own judgment and took the book home, only to discover he was right...I started trusting him, and the wonderful organisation of his still-developing brain.

He has been the same with movies, whilst Princess will watch a movie, then press "play" again directly after having just watched it.

So hard for me then, to watch these two children sitting, and sitting, and sitting some more...watching loads of tv. I have nothing against tv, and see lots of value in it- even the Cartoon Network...but it was all I could do to button my lip, when I saw them sitting there day after day.

Then, to have them sitting there calling out for "a peeled carrot with the ends cut off", or "a bottle of water", or "a bowl of icecream with a teaspoon", etc...I was feeling a bit like a slave.

I knew an unschooling mum shouldn't feel this way...but I did. Luckily I managed to keep my feelings to myself...for the most part, I didn't let them know what I thought of the way they were spending their days.

J-Man had started doing many other things in his day, and I wasn't so worried about him after a week or so. But the Princess seemed to have stopped doing all the things she used to do. She was barely leaving the house. I was worried.

Recently on an unschooling list someone said they didn't think there would be very much about my children that would worry me. That's not the case at all- I do worry. I probably don't worry as much as the next Mum...I trust them. Whenever doubts come in, they are from me- something I need to work through. They have very little to do with my children...they are living their lives, and learning all the time.

And I realised I didn't need to purse my lips and carry on with my own life...I could strew something or other here or there to see if it might be interesting for one or both of them.

I tidied the art table, which had become a dumping ground. Then it looked like the Princess hadn't been not drawing because she was too busy watching tv...rather- there had been no space to work!

This last week, they have watched less Sky TV. They've even turned it off sometimes :0) and even when there was a programme they enjoyed. I'm sure it will be a part of their lives for a long while to come, and I'm equally sure there will be days they feel like sitting under a blanket snuggled together watching their favourite shows all day long.

But they've gone back to their other activities...and even some new ones. J-Man painted yesterday- I can't remember the last time he did that.

He also made a picture for Princess, and she made one for him...I can't remember the last time they did that together either.

He's started playing Sims again, and World of Warcraft.

Princess can tell me all10 (main) aliens Ben 10 can turn into. She knows all their powers. She's been playing at being a doctor with a new medical bag we got. She's counting down the days until her birthday (about 100), and checking the times her favourite programmes are on. She's still learning plenty.

I'm not worried any more.

The Sky Fog is lifting, but it was mostly mine.

Anne Sullivan Quote

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -- Anne Sullivan

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday- Rainbow Night!

We are having a Rainbow Night!

J-Man remembered this morning about the night we gave him his favourite toddler book. I was surprised he remembered the night, since he was under 2.5 yrs.

We had a Red Night- where we ate red dinner (Tomato Soup), and had Red drinks, and wore red clothing.

The Princess asked if she was born yet, and I reminded her she wasn't born until J-Man was 31/2.

She asked if we had had a Red Night when she was little, and I realised we hadn't done anything like that. She looked set to get upset, when I aid, "I Know- Let's have a Red Dinner tonight!"
She looked reasonably happy, but then her lip began to quiver as she whispered, "But I don't like Tomato Soup". (Actually she doesn't like *any* soup, and probably hasn't ever tried Tomato Soup).

J-Man said, "Well then- how about we have a Rainbow Dinner, where everyone will have something to eat that they like?"

And that's what we decided to do.

The kids set about making placemats, and a menu. It was great to see them working together at he table- they don;t often do that these days. It wasn't easy working out something to eat for each colour, but we came up with the following:

Yellow...Kumara Pies (well it was a bit of a push)
Blue...Mashed Potatoes coloured Blue (that was really hard...and we don't normally eat colourings)
Indigo...Ribena to drink
Violet...Homemade Plum Sorbet for dessert

We also got Rainbow-coloured lollies and Popcorn for treats to eat with movies after dinner...these are all things we never buy, and I'm not sure of the repercussions of eating such a lot of chemical colours- but it fits with our theme.

Tuesday- Super Fort

I've been thinking recently how to reduce our carbon footprint...and I thought I was getting somewhere...then I saw an ad for the Cranium Super Fort. I've wanted to get this for the children since I first saw it. I love them to make forts, but I really don't like the mess, and the blankets and sheets all over the place that need to be washed.

It used to be $140, and recently I've noticed it for sale for $100...that was still too much in my opinion.

This week it was on sale for half price, $50.

It's not eco-friendly, to be sure- but the kids have had a blast! It's probably not quite big enough for three children- not that they complained...I would like to get another one or even two sets :0)

Monday, June 9, 2008


1.the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.

I'm trying to raise my children without coercion...I don't say I'm there yet- old habits die hard.

But the intention is always to live with my children, without coercion.

I'm not sure if it is possible to be coercion-free with a toddler...I'm learning all the time.

Tombliboo (18 months) demands it, to be frank, and I can't remember if all toddlers are like this- but I suspect most are.

And it's hard sometimes letting him do the things he wants to do- because sometimes it's inconvenient, sometimes dangerous, sometimes downright frustrating. I'm trying not to force my will upon him, but sometimes I do.

On those occasions, I apologise to him- I don't want to thwart him...sometimes it seems I have no choice, but I need to analyse that (when I have time!) there always no alternative?

Tombliboo doesn't like to get in his carseat right away- he has never liked carseats. I have recently discovered that he does not like to get buckled in if he needs to use the toilet. I had supposed he *never* liked to be buckled in...but that is not strictly true.

He also likes to play in the car before getting in his seat.

We try to allow extra time for this...but sometimes it doesn't happen, and I have to squash a little person on his seat against his will.

It's heartbreaking.

Not only for Tombliboo, but for me as well...and his siblings. He stops screaming after a bit, usually with something to distract him (a handful of popcorn, a song, or a book or toy)...but we all carry on feeling shattered long after he has cheered up.

Coercion isn't pretty.

Parenting gets easier (or rather different) as children grow...before long you can start reasoning with even a very young child. You can offer them choices- real choices, not just '"Would you like the red or the blue cup?"

Sometimes toddlers need the same book read over and over (and over), and coercion might seem like a good idea...but it's not necessary at that point. There are other alternatives which the child will usually accept...even just getting out of the house to read that same book in a different spot can help change the mood. I read of one lady who was so bored of the same book- she read it to her toddler backwards...well I've done that too, and it's hilarious!

But what of coercion with older children. I' m trying to think of occasions when I assert my will on to my children. J-Man doesn't often like to leave the house, especially not in the early morning (by that he means beofre 12pm). Sometimes we need to go out for appointments I couldn't make in the afternoon, or to a movie we all want to see, or just because the Princess likes to go out and her preferences matter here too.

We try to make it as easy on J-Man as possible...we don't go out unnecessarily, if it is something that could wait until the evening when Daddy gets home. We might stop in at a gaming shop for him to look around, or go to some other place of interest to him. Or we might get some sort of special food he likes. We try to have regular days at home, where he knows he doesn't have to get out of his jammies all day. I make sure I take the Princess out on her own every weekend. She loves to go out. Sometimes we need to go out when J-Man doesn't want to...but he is accepting usually...or he will argue the reasoning the outing. Sometimes he's right- it doesn't have to be done today, and we will adjust things.

Princess is different...I find coercion never enters the equation with her. Hmmm- perhaps I will have to think harder, there must be some insidious way I am over-ruling her natural desires. Currently, I am trying to have her avoid dairy products because they affect her ears. But it was done with her consent, and if she wants something with dairy in I will remind her it has dairy in it, and then give her a little bit if she is still wanting some.

It wasn't always this way... I can remember the days she was unreasonable about things. Like not wanting to wear a hat, so I took it off, but she didn't want to carry it, so I offered to carry it, but she didn't want anyone to carry it, but I wasn't happy to leave it on the path and walk away, and she wasn't happy to take it home and then carry on our, it all comes back to me. But, there was a way just took time, and patience, loads of patience...and lots of listening.

It's good to think about where one is coercive, and whether or not one needs to be. Trying to eliminate the "have to's" and "shoulds" in our life with children. Going easy on ourselves and our children. Treating these little people with the utmost respect. Recognising we might not always be right...we might not even *often* be right. We have a lot to learn. Our children are our best teachers.

Photo Note: Tombliboo stamped himself all over with a little red smiley face stamp...he stamped me as well, and that made for an embarrassing trip to the letterbox (after I'd forgotten I was splotchy). Today he built an 8 block's only the second time ever that he has built something rather than knowing stuff down :0)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday- At Home

We really needed a day at home...I was tempted to take Tombliboo (and the other kids) to a Storytime...we found a magic one, where the librarian is kind to children, and interesting to listen to. She's also a goldmine of information about which books might suit which child.

I think I'd like to be her when I grow up ;0)

But, we have been out reasonably early every day this week, and most of last week as well.

Ironically, J-Man got up at 7am- today, of all days, when he had no reason to get up. He very kindly offered to look after Tombliboo so I could stay in bed. We have been trying (without success) to help Tombliboo (18 months) sleep a little better at night (he has woken every 1-2 hours all night since he was 2 months old, with very few exceptions). We weren't happy about him crying, so it was a pretty odd exercise. I have slept in J-Man's bed the last 4 nights, and he has slept in our's.

Last night was really cute...after one of his breastfeeds, I popped Tombliboo back in to bed, and he rolled over and over until he attached himself to J-Man. His big bother muttered something in his sleep, and put his arm around the little fellow...and there they stayed. It was terribly sweet.

So, J-Man and Princess stayed in their jammies until late afternoon- when the boys had a shower/bath together and Princess decided to put clothes on.

It was a happy day...lots of time to just be. I got some afghans baked, and had dinner ready early.

We had a cooked lunch, and I caught up on the washing.

Tombliboo watched Dora the Explorer on Sky (which is a rarity) and on dvd...then fell asleep sitting upright while the big kids watched The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Later he played outside, bounced on the trampoline, ran through the washing, played with a train track, and magnetic stix and balls. he helped me bake, and helped with the dinner. We found an online computer game where he only has to touch the keyboard for something new to happen.

Princess helped with the baking, and played with her ponies in J-Man's room. She also played with cuisenaire rods, and did a Bob the Builder puzzle I had got out for Tombliboo (who has shown no interest in interlocking puzzles so far). She and I put together the train track, and she played World of Warcraft with J-Man.

J-Man played World of Warcraft for the first time in ages, and spent time in his room playing Pokemon Sapphire on his gameboy. He jumped on the trampoline, played ponies with his sister, and played on mattresses in his room with Tombliboo. The big excitement for him today was a phonecall from his friend Jerry in Los Angeles.

I don't know how many times i tidied the lounge, only to have it not tidy again now...but I'm not bothered at all...hooray.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Names

Officially changing the names of our children for this blog :0)

J9 will now be J-Man

A5 will be Princess

T1 will be Tombliboo

More about Thursday

After we did the bits and pieces we needed to do outside the house today, we bought some hot New Zealand they are fried in oil (eek), salt is added, and they are wrapped in newsprint paper. It's the cheapest (and most unhealthy) lunch imaginable.

I had planned for this by putting $3 in my pocket, and taking along a bottle of sauce and half a loaf of bread (for "chip butties"). We keep a picnic blanket in the car, and I had bottles of drink as well.

We found a park to eat at (one we have enjoyed before), and T1 fell asleep just as we arrived.

We left the car door open so we could see him, and ate our chips under a tree, on top of piles of autumn leaves. It was such a nice time. We laughed together and talked about what super powers we would all like if we could have some.

We thought of words that rhyme with "bud", for no reason that I can now recall.

When we were finished eating, we checked to see if T1 would like to come with us to the playground too...but he didn't stir.

I pushed the kids on swings, as high as I could make them go...they call that mega-pushing, a phrase coined by a young friend of ours.

The ywanted ot be pushed at exactly the same time and took me a while to make it so (adjusting forh t edifferences in wieght, etc)...and discovered why it was so important...

They wanted to hold hands while they swung. They managed this (not very easy feat) for quite some time, amongst fits of giggles...and while I looked on, amazed at how much they love each other.

I went to check on T1, and asked him if he woudl like to come to the park now...he opened his eyes, smiled and said "park", then his baby eyes rolled back in his head, and he was out again.

I chased the kids, and we did more swinging. J9 surprised me (and himself) by going across some monkey bars. I had attempted it, and failed miserably...he as so proud.

I went to see if T1 would like to come and play now, and he did want to...he walked around and around some giant logs bordering the playground, and went up and down the slide multiple times, mostly with A5. He had a very long swing, and didn't want to get out of it.

When we were nearly ready to leave, the fun really began! J9 found a mushroom in the bark, and decided to look for some more. He and A5 wandered around the perimeter of the park, then A5 screamed, "We hit the jackpot!"

They had found piles of field mushrooms, three different varieties.

They also thought they might have found truffles...I don't think so, but they found the weirdest fungi I have ever seen!

They were so cool to play with...they looked like eggs (mushroomish) on the outside, and inside was a jelly-type substance, protecting a white substance...but the white was really an intricately wound spiral kind of thing- like a ball, all squished up in to the egg shape...and encircling what looked like dung.

I'm just going to have to look it up!

We found several of them, and before long another child came over to see what we were doing...all the children had sticks, and were finding more and more of these oddities.

We found one with loads of maggot-like creatures was such a lot of fun, and I was so annoyed that I hadn't taken the camera.

Thursday- An Epiphany?

Today we visited the Dr (A5 had her eardrum perforate yesterday).

J9 didn't want to come in- he was busy looking up his pokedex to find the fastest pokemon. He asked if T1 could please stay in the car with him, and I thought it would be fine since I could see them from the window.

Also, it had been a struggle getting T1 in the car, since I didn't have much time, and I usually allow him to have a little play before I strap him in. He has never liked being in his carseat, but is getting better at willingly hopping in, so long as he doesn't need to pee, and he has had a little play.

So, A5 and I were in the waiting room alone. She spent a few seconds on a ride-on toy, then sat down to leaf through a House and Garden magazine.

We were having a lot of fun looking through the various wallpapers, paints and decor plans.

I saw a kitchen I liked and went off in to a little world of my own...fantasising about this perfect kitchen, and neat little rugs throughout the perfect dining room.

And suddenly the thought came unbidden... I will have a perfect kitchen one day! I will have a house where there are no puddles on the carpet, or eggs smashed into the bookshelf. There'll be no pink clothes sprawled in every direction, and none in the drawers.

There won't be any lego to step on with bare feet, or cups and plates that haven't made their way to the sink. No dressing gowns on the lounge floor, or puzzle pieces nowhere near their frame or box.

The sink won't be full of dishes, and the rubbish bin won't need emptying.

All of these delicious thoughts popped in in an instant...and then the next logical thought popped in as well.

There won't be a gigantic mess in my perfect home because there won't be any children.

And then I will be wishing for grandchildren to mess up that tranquility in the way only young children can.

But for now...I'm going to love my messy house...including all the evidence that three children live here. I'm not going to stress about all the things that should be put away, all the things I ought to have done today, all the things I'm pretty sure won't be done tomorrow either.

I'm going to enjoy being with three little people that matter most to me in the world.

Note: After I got started on this, I thought I really ought to at least hang out the washing (at 4:30pm), and then do last night's dishes, so we'll have enough to use for tonight ;0)

A5 asked if she could please, please, please do the dishes with me. She has often asked, but I haven't been so keen. I always figure the water will either be too hot to put her fingers in, or not hot enough to wash everything properly. But I realised that putting her off will get us nowhere...and she came up with a plan (as she often will) that worked for both of us.

She passed me what I was after...I explained why I do the dishes the way I do, and at the end she asked if she could please do them tomorrow with me as well.

More info on "chores" here... (look on the right hand side, 3 topics down)

Wednesday- Indiana Jones

We saw the Indiana Jones movie this morning. J9 was the only one really keen on it, but we all liked it. He got scared in a couple of bits, and I noticed A5 had her eyes shut.

T1 watched snippets, but mostly ran round and round the theatre, and outside of the theatre too.

Afterward we had a few little jobs to do, then we went home to relax.

I've been thinking about a conversation I overheard between some homeschooling mums.

This one lady said she was spending extra time with her dd since she is still not competent with basic math facts (addition and subtraction to 20) after 8 or 9 years of curriculum! I was astonished. How can one not be competent with basic math at 13? I know the answer...curriculum. How much more would this child have learned had she been left alone- if she could have baked biscuits, or played video games, used pocket money and a bank account, and done the shopping.

But that isn't the saddest part of much damage has been done to what she thinks of herself- how she sees mathematics.

How many people needlessly believe they are "hopeless at math"?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Introducing T

T is our third child. He's 18 months old. Our first baby to be born at home, co-sleep, be "worn" (in a sling) and not be vaccinated.

He is such a little darling...cheeky, and determined, but so adorable.

We have been doing Elimination Communication with T since he was born. It has been an interesting ride. He was out of nappies at home aged 7 weeks, day and night. And 100% nappy-free at 12 weeks, when I got up enough courage to ditch the nappies when we were out as well.

Since it was going so well, I sold all my cloth nappies when he was 4 months old, and contacted the local newspaper because i felt the whole world should know about this. We were interviewed when he was 5 months, and was crawling. It was looking like things had change on the ec front at that point, but I was hoping it was just a temporary problem. It wasn't, lol.

So it has been quite a journey :0) You can read about it here. At 18 months, he is dry most nights, despite breastfeeding 1-2 hrly, and he doesn't use the potty at night.

The days are *very* hit and miss at home...usually fabulous when we're out. I've learned one thing in all of this though, that things can change in a day.

T says over 100 words, and some small sentences here and there, like "Look Dadda", or "Bob shoes", or "go outside".

He is very strong, and can hang off our clothesline, lol, and bounce really high on the trampoline. He is a speedy little runner too, and if I'm not careful- he's quite hard to catch.

He loves the pools, and the bath. He loves watching movies, lol, and will watch for ages. He likes Maisy and Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder best of all.

T is like a mini-tornado in our house, wreaking havoc in every room. He is a very good climber too. He loves to help, and is very good at making popcorn (and eating it).

T is a joy to have around. We all really like it when he gets "nutty", and goes crazy running around in circles, and making silly noises.

Introducing A

Our second child is our only daughter, A...she will be 6 in September, and has been planning her party since the day after her last one.

She is a lovely little girl, with a fabulous imagination. She likes ponies, and has collected the entire My Little Pony Ponyville set. Every time a new piece comes out, she saves her pocket money to buy it.

She likes anything girlie, and especially pink. But she also enjoys Lego and plastic animals- though she insists they are "boy toys".

She has an adorable giggle, and is quick with hugs when someone is looking like they need one.

She loves to make things, especially out of paper and (lots of) cellotape. In the last couple of weeks she has made a back pack, some pirates with swords, a soft drink and fries container, a pizza, a person in an aeroplane, and one in a bed.

She also likes to leave notes, and has just started to branch out from family names, writing (not easily decipherable) notes for each of us. Actually, they are relatively easy to decipher if one remembers three simple rules...they are usually spelled phonetically, often missing vowels and almost always missing spaces between words :0)

She has never been to school, or even kindergarten. She loves other children, though prefers older ones. I often wonder if she might ask to go to school one day because she perceives school as being a place full of friends. Though a recent visit to a school playground probably smashed that illusion.

Our favourite thing to do together is shopping :0)

Introducing J

This is our beautiful firstborn child, J. He turned 9 in January (2008).

He has a fabulous sense of humour, and loves the computer. He plays more games than I could list, and is finding new ones all the time. He also likes to make movies on the computer.

He enjoys Lego, and jumping on the trampoline.

He has a level 47 Night Elf Druid on World of Warcraft, but he hasn't played for quite some time now...too many other things to do.

He has never been to school, never wanted to go.

He taught himself to read before he was 4, which amazed and intrigued me...if he could learn something that complicated without instruction- what couldn't he learn?

He's just saved up to buy some (decorative) samurai swords, and is enjoying "training' with them each day.

He loves to be at home, but makes friends easily...younger kids seems to think he is super-cool, but he always prefers to be with older ones.

He is not at all interested in sports so far, and wants to work for Blizzard Entertainment one day.

Sunday- Swimming

We've had a great day...A (5) and I went shopping for a new composter, and a few other little bits and bobs...I intended to get a fridge-lock (have been fighting getting locks for a long time) because I really didn't think I could stand for T (18 months) to break another free range egg :0)

Meanwhile, T was at home having the longest sleep of his life, and J (9) and dh were busy on computers.

In the afternoon we went to the local swimming pools for a splash...the look on T's face was priceless, and I made a mental note to make sure we don't leave it so long next time.

But then we got was cold! Then I needed to take T in to the baby/splash pool where it is was warmish on entry, but since it is only 30cm deep- I was freezing!

Both our younger children have had loads of trouble with ears, so we try to put silicone ear plugs in, and silicone swimcaps to try to keep those's always been a struggle with T, but today was impossible. Almost as soon as it was on, he had the cap off...and he wasn't happy about having it put back on again. I didn't like to go against his wishes, but felt I needed to...since we were told by the specialist it was a good idea, and mainly, because dh was there and he insist on doing everything properly, lol. I'm pretty sure, if I was on my own, I would have out the cap aside and tried my darnedest not to get any water in his ears.

The changing room was fun...the family rooms we use are not really designed with 5 people in mind- it is quite a squash, and thenT got down, all cosy with a jacket on and all- then went and turned the shower on.

It seemed like a disaster- the cold, the wet, no spare clothes for him...but he popped his head round wearing a surprised face, and giggling. We all thought it was funny.

We picked up pizzas on the way home ($5 Hawaiian Sunday special at Dominoes), and the "big" kids have settled in to watch cartoons on Sky, while T watches Bob the Builder for approx. the 100th time.

Photo Note: I just noticed this addition to an alphabet chart I made...courtesy of A (5). This is a new stage with A's writing...she is now writing without asking how to spell every word. It can be quite a mission working out what she has said- I think this says "Now I know my eiou"...and I'm just glad she didn't write it on the wall :0)