Sunday, 27 April 2014

ANZAC weekend

After 2 1/2 weeks of break from our regular activities I'm feeling energised and ready to get back into things. It helps that Vintage is largely over and Tony is now home (and awake) in the mornings and evenings and on weekends. He had 3 1/2 days off over the Easter weekend and has had all 3 days of this ANZAC Day long weekend off work. He played and coached baseball yesterday but has been here the rest of the weekend and its lovely for us all to reconnect with him and for me to have a bit more conversation with an adult in my day.

On Thursday Caitlin went to her athletics carnival where she competed in the 100m, 400m, relay and triple jump. She was the only Under 10s girl from her school, so she spent the day with the girls from another school, its great that she can fit in easily with a new group of people and make friends so easily.  While she was there LiAM, Millie and I went to L's for the day, the kids played Terraria and watched Terraria videos, played Minecraft Mutants (a game they've all made up) on the trampoline, and played an imaginative role-playing game on and off all day.

Once we picked Caitlin up we took her straight to the Guides Hall where she was having a sleepover before the ANZAC Day March the next day. She and most of the other girls slept outside in tents - it was our first really cold night of the season - down to 1 degree! - but they all managed all right and I think enjoyed the experience.

After dropping her off, we went to the library to return books, borrow some more, and watch some more Terraria videos. Tony met us there and took Millie home while LiAM went to Karate for the first time. He really enjoyed it and fitted in with the 2 kids who were about his age. I was really impressed with the dojo. Its a multi-age class - kids and adults in together. Some of the training they do as a whole group, other times they break into smaller groups with older kids helping the younger ones, or those at the same ability level working together. LiAM was assigned to a 13 year old boy to be shown the basics over the next few weeks - and he learnt heaps. (The next day he showed Caitlin how to do one of the kicks he'd learnt. The next morning Millie (from watching them) showed ME how to do it). Caitlin is considered joining the Karate class as well - and so am I. It might be a good way to get fit again and learn something I've vaguely thought about for a long time... There's a few fears standing in my way as well that may stop me, but hopefully I'll be able to overcome them. The dojo encourages parents and kids to train together, so I would be welcome from their point of view...

On Friday morning, L and M elected to stay home with Tony while I went to Yarra Glen to watch the ANZAC Day parade and ceremony. Arriving there and walking down the street and settling in to the crowd I felt so grateful to live in a small community, where I know so many people and we all come out to join in community events. There were several hundred people watching the parade. The Guides were running a bit late and the parade started as soon as they arrived. The crowd moves along the street with the parade (which set a cracking pace this year, I found it hard to keep up) and we all end up at the Memorial Hall and the War Monument. The Guides stand around the Monument each year, and this year Caitlin was one of the four who stood guard on the four corners of the Monument, she was proud to have such a prominent part in the ceremony.

The ceremony was moving and thought provoking. A lot of focus on being grateful for the country we live in and for the fact that we are not living with war on a daily basis. Recognition too for those Australians who are on active service at the moment in other countries.

After the ceremony I caught up with a few friends I hadn't seen for a while, then went and picked Caitlin up from the Guides Hall. Home again for a quiet afternoon - I installed a new Minecraft mod for  the kids, which they played for a while, Tony had a nap then watched the ANZAC Day Collingwood v Essendon game (which fortunately Collingwood won!) and we pottered around, read books, tidied up a bit, oh, and I made Anzac Cookies. Millie and I popped into Yarra Glen later in the day and did a bit of grocery shopping and we came home and made nachos for tea.

Yesterday was also a quiet day at home. Tony left early for baseball, and we played Township and Candy Mania and Episode on the iPad, watched some DVDs (Season 2 of Full House, and the Ugly Duckling and Me), sorted through all our books to see if there are any we could donate to the stall I'm having for ABA next week (no kid's books were allowed to go, but I did find a handful of my books that I'm unlikely to read again) and then read a pile of the books that we'd pulled out, played the piano, made some rainbow loom bracelets, played Minecraft and Poisson Rouge, and the kids played a game where the girls are sisters called Sally and Rosey, and its their birthday today, so they spent hours getting ready for a party - they've made decorations and invitations and Caitlin is going to make a cake and toffee today and then we'll all go to the birthday party. It will be especially fun for Millie I think as she's really starting to hang out for her birthday which is still about 6 weeks away - this might ease the frustration of waiting a little. We also played a fun game of Chinese Whispers at tea time - most of the sentences made it fairly intact around the 5 of us, although a couple got mixed up in a hilarious way.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

School Holidays

We are often asked if we stop doing school work during the school holidays, or some version of 'Do you let the kids have a break in the holidays'/'Does Mum give you time off in the holidays?' and the answer is not really a simple one.

We don't do formal or structured lessons that look like what most people imagine when they think of school. We learn (myself, Tony and the kids) all day every day, doing things that interest us or are important at the time. So we don't stop that during the holidays. Every day we learn from what is going on around us and from the activities that we all choose to do.

On the other hand, we do get a bit of a break during the holidays, because most of our regular activities stop for that time. So our week can be a bit more relaxed, a lot less wanting to be somewhere at a particular time. We can spend more time at home, catching up on activities we've wanted to do, or watching movies or playing games - we do all this during the term as well, but I find that being able to do it for a few days in a row without interruptions to go out and do other things, gets us all to a point where the learning becomes deeper and more connections can flow. We can really explore whatever it is we're looking at, rather than doing it for a few hours then being called away and possibly not coming back to it. Or we can spend more time visiting friends - we often use this time to see the kids' schooled friends, who often don't have so much time for visiting during term. Or having longer visits with our homeschooled friends, without either family having other commitments on the day.

One thing we do do less of during school holidays is going to public venues - we'll still go to the park in Yarra Glen or Healesville, although they are usually much busier than during term (except for yesterday when it was raining and we were the only people there) - we do avoid places like the zoo, museum, indoor play centres, shopping centres and so on. We'd much prefer to go during the week once school has gone back, and not be overwhelmed by crowds. Occasionally we are enticed by some of the school holiday activities that are offered by places and we do go along, but it is a much more exhausting and overwhelming day than our usual mid-term outings - so the activity only appeals if it is a particularly special one or something that is highly relevant to our interests.

So yes, we do do things differently during the school holidays, although probably in a different way than most people are thinking when they ask the question.