Not Back to School–Meet the Students

February 3, 2014

Possum is 7 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 6 months

Little Princess is 3 years 1 month

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This year Bandicoot has joined our homeschool full time.  In fact, it will be the first year that I have all three of my darlings with me every day.  (Possum was at preschool one day per week when Little Princess was born).

To celebrate our first day, we had a fun photo shoot.  Here are some pics for you to enjoy.

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And here is our new “Big School” Boy.  First day of school for Bandicoot, but no walking-down-the-street-waving pic.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do instead!  (In fact, truth be told, I forgot to do his solo pics in the morning with the other shots, so this was at the end of a long day.)

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A really long day!

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School Bell

January 29, 2014

Possum is 7 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 6 months

Little Princess is 3 years old

This morning I woke to the dulcet tones of the school bell and MotoGP reruns.  It is nice not to be kissing the kids goodbye.

However, today I struggle with my two biggest negatives of homeschooling.

As my friends drop their kids off this morning, they return to their “normal” adult lives.  They do things like straighten the house, go to work, have conversations, think a thought all to themselves – you know, “normal” activities.  I tiptoe around Lego landmines, racetracks for Matchbox cars that run through several rooms, boxes and piles of books (what homeschooler does not?) and try to avoid the noisy projectiles that are my children.  There is never a break; never a let-up. (While I am typing this I have one child on my lap and am printing copywork pages for start of term).

The other one is almost a clincher for me.  Today, the kids are down.  They are not thinking about what school involves.  They are thinking about all their friends gathering at the school next door.  Together.

To me, the number one thing that school provides and that I do not is an opportunity to hang out with your mates every day.

Of course, they may not be real friends.  There are even those (usually teachers who are trying to stop you talking in class!) who say that school is about learning and not about socialising.  But that is not the point.

And even if our kids did go to an institutional school, we don’t like the school next door, so they wouldn’t be going there with their mates, anyway.  Again, not the point.

THIS is the issue that makes me waiver sometimes, makes me wonder.  In the balance, I truly believe that my kids are absolutely better off at home, but days like today it is hard.

Instead, we are going to enjoy a couple more days of summer holidays.  We will start in earnest next week.  Today we are going to visit Bandicoot’s best mate (he is starting Kindy this year and they don’t start today.)  The kids will play, I will print copywork pages and nervously rearrange my resources, yet again. 

And they can watch MotoGP and Robin Hood and lounge around while the school bell rings.

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

December 25, 2013

This was the closing prayer at tonight’s Christmas vigil at our Church.

A new baby.  A little person, tiny fragile, dependant, vulnerable.

Anyone who has really sat with a baby knows the wisdom amidst that vulnerability; the loving openness in their need to absorb; the acceptance of who we are; the ability to be with us.

A new baby.  A person who will grow like us.  To experience awe and wonder and delight.  To experience pain and loss and disappointment.

A wondrous God.  More mighty and awesome than His entire creation.  Powerful and everlasting!

And yet, a wondrous God who knows what it is like to be awe-inspired, humbled.  Who knows what it is like to be vulnerable, scared, disappointed.  Happy and sad.  Loved and alone.

A wondrous God who knows what it is like to be me.

My intimate Saviour, waiting for me to come and be still; to gaze upon Him quietly; ready to fill me gently with wonder and love, of only I’ll take the time to hold this new baby in my heart.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us this Christmas.  Thank you for coming into our broken lives; for unwrapping the gifts of our broken hearts; for delighting even in our broken dreams.  Thank you for knowing us intimately, each and every one.

We pray this Christmas that we will fully unwrap the gift of the life you have given each of us.  Not just peek under the wrapping and be disappointed with the bits that don’t match our dreams, but really unwrap it all and discover it as the perfect gift from You – a vulnerable person, our wondrous God; our Intimate Saviour who knows us so well and still loves us anyway.

Lord Jesus, you were there in the beginning and you re here now.  Come into our lives forever.  We ask this in your own sweet name.

A Blessed Christmas to you all.

Coconut Goo

August 7, 2013

Possum is 7 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 1 month

Little Princess is 2 years 7 months

 

Things have not been “normal” around here.  Sadly, on the weekend DH’s Dear Father passed away, somewhat unexpectedly.  We have had an upset time.

Formal schoolwork is on the back-burner.

Today I thought I would try something fun for the kids.  When my idea of the zoo was flatly rejected by Possum and Bandicoot (you can’t ride your bike at the zoo), I decided to try this instead:

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Coconut Goo!!

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The recipe is really simple.  I got it from the Creative Playhouse blog.  I will write it here, because it drives me crazy when recipe links disappear over time:

1 cup coconut milk

2 cups cornflour

Yup, that’s it.  Mix it up.  Play with it.  Squeeze it, goop it.  It started slimy and quickly turned into a crumbly dough.  It did that groovy cornflour thing where it is solid, but turns gooey when you squeeze it (okay, so it is probably something a whole lot more scientific to do with saturated solids and fine particle size).

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Gotta love three little ones playing together happily outside.

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Bandicoot made ice flows in Antarctica.  We had to lament the lack of plastic penguins in our home (and not for the first time, either).

Once it got too crumbly for our liking, we decided to add water and make runny, gluey, goo.

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Tee hee hee!  Loads of gooey fun.

It made a terrible mess, but it cleaned up very easily, even from our clothes.  AND it left our skin feeling so soft!

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St Joseph, Pray for Us

June 12, 2013

Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most strong, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.

Tonight I have started a novena to St Joseph.  We are trying to work out what to do about our home – extend? How? Move? Where?  We have been looking for homes and losing lots of sleep.  It is all so confusing and there are so many other decisions intermingled with this one.  It is so different to be moving a family than when it was just us.

Mum Heart

May 25, 2013

I am currently sitting on a train to a neighbouring city.  Alone.  Well, not exactly alone – there are a good many strangers with me – enough, in fact that I am sitting in a stairwell as there are no seats left.

My heart is full of trepidation.  I am heading to the Mum Heart conference , which, as you can guess by the name, is the Aussie Mom Heart .  The conference should be good.  The agenda looks good.  I am concerned I will be hungry (what???) But I think that is more my mind finding something silly to focus on to avoid the anxiety eating me alive.

I have met some of the attendees online, but, as far as I know, not IRL.  They are people like me – Mums, Christians, homeschoolers.  Some know each other and have Ben doing this for a while, some, like me, not.  It is supposed to be pleasant and happy and all of that.  But then, I am not much of a people person – not in real life.  Although, much to my horror, I have found in recent times I have turned into one of those people who chats to store people, telemarketers and more… who leaves door to door sales people walking backwards down the drive to try and get away.  Eek.

And then there is the big issue.  Tonight is my first night away from the kids.  Ever.  Well, since they have existed, anyway. 

It might be a slight exaggeration.  When Little Princess graced us with her (early) presence, my waters broke almost 24 hours before labour started.  That meant that I did get a night in hospital without kids then.  Full of anxiety and anticipation and probably, really, in labour.  And I pined for the boys.  I didn’t sleep that night because I missed my little Bandicoot snuggling me.

Tonight I have booked a queen size bed in a hotel room all to myself.  My plan is to sleep lying down, IN bed.  Not on the lounge.  Not with my head on the nightstand.  Not hanging off the side.  Actually in the bed.  The though excites me and scares me.  It seems so selfish to be excited about it.

And once more I’ll probably not sleep because I am pining for my family.

Or worse, I’ll like it.  I might even remember what it was like before DH and I were married.

Trepidation.

On Angels and Devils

April 13, 2013

Little Princess is 2 years 4 months

I have grown up quite comfortable with the spirit world around me, as I understand it.  I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in The Communion of Saints.

I personally have, on occasion, seen angels, or had visits from dead relatives, but only on occasion.  One memorable time as a child I had an interaction with someone a whole lot less savoury.

Despite my limited personal experience I was always quite comfortable with the idea.  I believe my Dad was touched with The Gift.  He didn’t talk about it, but sometimes his guard would slip.

So I believe my children when they tell me about the people they see.  (I firmly believe that children, in their innocence and closer connection to God, can see more of His world). 

Tonight was … well, I don’t know what it was.  I am just glad that our wonderful pastor has talked to me about battles of the spirit and the insidious work of the devil.

Little Princess and I were here alone, playing on the floor near the door.  She pointed at the door, ‘Man’, she said.

At first I missed what she had said, so she did it again.
‘Is there a man there?’
‘Mmm hmm’
Then she looked at me at little unsure.  ‘Where is the man?’
‘There’
‘Is he a good man or a bad man?’
‘Bad  man’ she shuddered and snuggled into me, not scared, totally sure of her safety with me.  I blessed us both (Important to make visible signs or pray out loud for the devil can put thoughts in our heads, but is not actually in our heads).
She ran to the lounge.
‘Is the bad man still here?’
‘Yes, bad man inside’

Well that frightened me.  I was right at the door.  I pulled myself up and commanded, ‘Go back to where you belong.  Leave us alone now.  God and the Lord Jesus protect me and my family.  You do not belong here.’. It was strange.  The words came to me and I said them, but I had no feeling at all of anyone being there.

Little Princess smiled at me from the lounge. bad man gone now.’

What is so disturbing is what is the devil doing here now?  We were just playing quietly, not something fraught with temptation.  It is true and frightening that spiritual danger is everywhere.

How wonderful that my God is even so much greater.  AND He loves me personally.

Pirates

April 2, 2013

Possum is 6 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 8 months

Little Possum is 2 years 2 months

I really don’t understand the pirate phenomenon.  Pirates are bad.  They are really bad.  They do really bad things.

I have no desire for my children to role play “terrorists”.  I don’t want them to play “rape and kill”.  Why would I want them to play pirates?

And yet, pirates are everywhere in children’s entertainment these days.  Regularly my kids are invited to “pirate parties”.  Almost every boat toy you see has to have a skull and cross-bones emblazoned on it.  Why is that?  Why can’t they just be sailors?

Pirates are not cute.  Pirates are not fun.  Pirates are not romantic. Pirate treasure does not belong to them… it is stolen goods.  (I don’t want my kids to be thieves or trade in stolen goods, either.)

DH and I feel very strongly about this.

Whenever pirate things arrive in our house they disappear.  We explain to our kids why pirates are not acceptable role models, even for pretending.

And then the boys caught a QANTAS flight to Adelaide.

Thank you, QANTAS for feeling Disney’s, “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” was suitable entertainment for our kids.

The boys fell in love.  They told us about it in great length.  They had really enjoyed the adventure and Captain Hook, whilst Disneyed, was the baddy.  Okay, so it is a glossed up kids’ show, but you still wouldn’t want to be on Captain Hook’s team.

They have begged and begged, and this weekend, in the supermarket, we finally relented and bought them a “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” DVD (it was on special).

I thought I knew “Peter Pan”.  Not fully, I am – looking forward to reading it again soon – but some idea of the story.  Apparently not.  At least, not this version.

The kids are pirates!  The kids are pirates?  Really?  Barrie must be turning in his grave!  I know I am having a turn.

I can’t see anything in the story line that actually requires them to be pirates.  The kids don’t seem to behave like pirates.  The story would work just as well if they were sailors or adventureurs.  But no.  That is not acceptable these days.  Everything must be pirates.

I am so bitterly disappointed in you, Disney.  I am so bitterly disappointed.

Unconditional Love

April 2, 2013

Dear God,

Please help me to love my children today… not for what they might become tomorrow or in the future.  Help me to like them even if they never master a certain skill that I want them to master.  Let me love them unconditionally, never withholding my love or approval from them based on their performance.  Let me see the good in them and make me blind to their shortcomings.  Forgive me because I know that I have been forgiven so much and yet I hold my children’s failures against them.

Amen.

Possum is 6 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 8 months

Little Princess is 2 years 2 months

 

I am struggling with Possum just now.  He is, once again, very highly strung, angry and well PRICKLY.  Although, when I say angry, I realised today he isn’t really.  He is acting angry; behaving angry.  If he slips up you can see that it is a cover, that he isn’t really angry.  This continuous nastiness is just the behaviour that is working for him right now.

And work it does.  It gets him attention.  It gives him control of the family (Eldest kids! *sheesh*  DH and I are much more easy going and have spent our lives chorkling in our sleeves about such neediness.)  We know that we are being played, and that he is (currently) winning, but short of leaving him in danger (oh, he is smart about when he does it) we haven’t worked out what to do.  Yet.

*~~~*

I am reading this book:  “Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe” by Todd Wilson.  I so wish it was available as a hard copy!  It is aimed at homeschoolers, as you might have guessed, but so much of it is relevant to all of my parenting experience.  (But then, that is the thing about homeschooling, isn’t it?  It isn’t compartmentalised like sending your child to school, it is a complete lifestyle.)

After yesterday reaching the point where I really did not like Possum because of his behaviour – I mean really.  REALLY.  I got upset at DH for not driving off and leaving him behind – I stumbled upon this prayer.

I prayed it.

Twice.

And again this morning.

Help me to like them even if they never master a certain skill that I want them to master. 

Help me to like him even if he never learns to control his emotions and temper.

Let me love them unconditionally, never withholding my love or approval from them based on their performance. 

Help me NOT to make the mistakes my Mum and Dad did that hurt me so much.

Let me see the good in them and make me blind to their shortcomings.

Let me see the real little Possum, not just the angry ball of emotion.

And you know what?  Today was much better!  Oh yes, we went out and yes, he did the flip from sweet and fun kid to obnoxious toe-rag, but this time it was different.

For a start, this time it wasn’t about me.  It wasn’t about me being a failure as a Mum.  It wasn’t about me not coping or not being good enough.  It wasn’t about him being a terrible person.

This time I loved him as he is today.

Even if he never grows out of it.

Even if we don’t learn to control it.

Even if we don’t ever help him to manage it better, despite our efforts.

Ever.

I didn’t loathe him.  Or me.  I loved him; my dear, obnoxious, angry, 6 year old, struggling to find his place in the world.

Which got me thinking.  Maybe our role as parents isn’t to solve all the problems with our kids.  Maybe it isn’t to fix them.  Maybe it isn’t to make them perfect little people.  Maybe our role is not so much to lead them through it, maybe it is simply to love them through it.

Yes, it is important to be a guide, but it is more important to be their support, surely – to love them unconditionally.

I know that is all I ever craved as a kid.

And still now, when I face life’s muddles and make them worse, that is what I need.

Technology

March 29, 2013

Possum is 6 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 8 months

Little Princess is 2 years 2 months

 

DH is currently working interstate for a month.  Despite being in the IT industry, working remotely does not happen very much in his work.  Who’da thunk it?

So…. being a homeschooling family and all, we are spending four weeks in a unit in the National Capital.

This has many wonderful perks to it, especially when we have a daily food and expenses budget.  (I am impressed.  Years ago, even ‘though the budget was the same, it was tough to stay within it.  Now, with five of us, not only does it significantly aid the supermarket budget, but it also lets us eat out fairly often.  I must have learnt some housekeeping skills along the way!)  There are so many museums and attractions to enjoy, as well as lots of outdoor space.

Internet access is not one of the perks.

We can have internet access for $10- per day.  Yup.  That’s right. $10- per DAY.  Which makes it approximately $300- for our time down here.  We do need some internet for DH’s work and for Possum’s schooling, but we are trying to just do it in spurts as much as possible.

This is not good news for blogging.

It should be fine.  I love Microsoft’s Live Writer.  This is what I use at home.  It does have some flaws, ‘though.

  1. It does not have an android equivalent, not that typing on my tablet is my preferred way of going
  2. It does not have a Windows 8 equivalent, which means that we cannot load it on the “school laptop” (our newest baby)
  3. It does nasty things on DH’s laptop, apparently.  Well, not Live Writer itself, I don’t think, but all the other stuff that it now downloads with it.  Remember all those missing posts from January 2012?

So that means, no LiveWriter.  No blogging offline.  No easy posting of pics.  (Oh, and just to make it even more fun, we do not have Office on the school laptop, and I can’t cut and paste on the tablet, so writing in another programme and copying it over is pretty tough going, too.)

What a nuisance.

Hopefully I will be able to keep you up to date with all our exciting happenings in SOME way.  Hopefully.