Saturday, 30 May 2015

Home and a concert

I wrote this last week and didn't get back to it to post it...

Tuesday was another day spent at home, although that wasn't originally the plan. We were going to meet some other unschoolers at a park day, however the weather was pretty wet and wild so the meet was cancelled and we decided to stay cozily at home. We watched some TV and played on the iPad and LiAM and Millie played more lego games. In the afternoon we had some friends come over. LiAM and A played on their iPads and Millie and J played lego and jumped on the trampoline. Caitlin skyped with friends and played Minecraft.

In the evening Caitlin and I headed in towards the city. I dropped her at a friend's house for a sleepover and I met my sister at RRR radio station for a Live to Air session by Tim Rogers and the Bamboos.  It was a great gig, fantastic music and wonderful as always to see Tim Rogers. I was astounded to realise he is only 2 years older than me - I hadn't realised he was so young when I used to go and see You Am I play at Newcastle Uni in the early 90s. After the show I went back to F's place, had a play and a cuddle with T - and watched him practice his new walking skill! - then had dinner and dessert with F & J.

The rest of the week was pretty busy and then last Sunday we went camping in the King Valley for 5 days. I will write all about our trip at - I didn't write anything while we were away, I spent the time hanging out by the river and enjoying having very little electronic communication.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Perfect start to the week

I was away at an ABA conference over the weekend, so yesterday the kids and I were all in need of some down time and reconnecting time. We had a really lovely day at home, all doing things together and individually as the mood took us, and it all flowed really well.

I spent time checking my email, reading my book (Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the 3rd book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater), learning Spanish, playing the piano, doing bits and pieces of housework, chatting on the phone, reading bits of LiAM's game for him, talking to the kids about the games they were playing & shows they were watching, painting with Millie, cleaning the blocked drain in the shower with Caitlin, playing Minecraft (Pixelmon) with Millie, and playing Titan on the iPad on my own and with Tony(Titan is a fantasy board game that Tony and I both played a lot in our younger years, and we get it out occasionally now. The kids and I have been playing and LiAM in particular was so excited about it and finding it frustrating to wait to play when either Caitlin or I were not available. So I found an iPad version and it is very accurate and means we can all have a play on our own even if the others are not available).

Caitlin visited our neighbours a couple of times, on her own and with the other 2 kids, rode her bike, skyped with friends, played Minecraft (with friends), made loom band present charms, watched a Disney version of A Christmas Carol, helped me unblock the shower drain, painted with Millie (we all did butterflies), played with the cat.

Millie played Minecraft, watched Liam play Plants v Zombies Garden Warfare, played with her stuffed toys, played duplo lego dinosaurs and horses, visited our neighbour, helped us play Titan, painted lots of butterflies.

LiAM played Titan, played Plants v Zombies Garden Warfare, helped Tony and I with our Titan game, discussed all the games and the strategies he was using in a lot of detail, played Duplo lego dinosaurs and horses with Millie, visited our neighbours and went for a run.

There was conversation flowing on and off all day, and everyone seemed to have enough downtime and time alone to feel recharged, and enough time playing with other people to feel connected. It was my favourite kind of day, a home day with everyone doing their own thing and interacting and co-operating without any pressure.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Fun Run

Yesterday we took part in a Fun Run/Walkathon to raise money for Hicci, a local inter-church community group, which took place at Maroondah Dam near Healesville.

Caitlin had seen flyers about it several weeks ago, and was very keen to take part in the run. I knew that I wasn't up to running 6km (or even a part of that), and she was happy to do it on her own. I had some concerns about what might happen if she hurt herself or something went wrong, and she talked through them all with me and we came up with solutions that we were both happy with. She wrote my mobile number on her arm so that someone could call me if necessary. I decided to do the walkathon with Millie and LiAM, so she figured that if she had enough, she could sit and wait until I got to her. We also didn't know if the organisers would let her run without an adult - when we arrived at the start we realised that several other kids were running alone, and that there would be officials along the way and a crowd of people running so it felt quite safe. LiAM had decided in the morning that he would run with Caitlin as well.

The kids set off in the group of runners, quite happily. Millie and I registered for the walk, and wandered around playing near the river until it was time for the walkers to leave. Millie walked with me all the way up the ramp to the top of the dam wall. It's quite a climb, and once at the top she asked to go in the sling. I popped her up and we walked the rest of the way to Donnelly's Weir, chatting all the way. It was great having that time with her, walking at my pace and observing and discussing all the things we saw - the dam and how reservoirs work, the trees and plants, the path we were walking on, the purpose of the fun run, lots of 'what if' conversations which Millie is great at. My shoes are not the greatest for walking in (they used to be, before they got old and started falling apart - time for new runners I think) and I had Millie sitting a bit too low on my back because she wanted me to put our water bottles in my pockets so the strap was below the pockets - and up and down those hills started to hurt before too long. It was a beautiful walk though and I did enjoy it despite the discomfort (and it was easier to walk with Millie on my back than to walk at her pace, given that I wanted to get to the end to see if the other kids were ok).

Millie walked to the top of this wall before she jumped up into the sling
Eventually I ran into Caitlin coming back the other way (it was a 3km run/walk to Donnelly's Weir, then back the same way). She seemed happy and still full of energy, and told me that LiAM had gotten bad blisters and couldn't walk anymore so had gotten a lift back in the Hicci car. I wanted to turn around straight away and head back, but it was very important to Caitlin to keep going by herself and she said I was nearly at the turn around point so I should keep going. I did keep going and argued with myself the whole way about whether it would be better to turn back. I was really worried that he would be upset and by himself, and I was close to an hour away even if I turned back straight away. In the end I decided it was better to get to the check point and talk to the officials there about how LiAM was. Once we reached the check point, Millie said she wanted to go home. There was a couple in their 80s who had decided not to walk back so the car was coming for them, and I decided Millie and I would also go back in the car. It took a while to arrive and I was getting a bit anxious - the lady at the check point though said that LiAM had been fine when he left.

We got back to the starting point and LiAM was happily sitting at the finish line with Caitlin, who had completed the run (she had run, walked and rested as needed throughout the 6km). He had received first aid (a bandaid on his large blister) and now could walk fine and wasn't upset at all - a big relief. He'd had his free sausage from the sausage sizzle, and went straight up to get 2 for me and Millie. He showed us where to get our show bags from, and was in a great mood. Caitlin was thrilled to have finished the course as well, it was a big achievement. We bought some drinks and a large cookie from the food van after we'd had our sausages, then headed into town.

I'm so glad that I was able to let the kids be independent in the race and push their own limits and that I was able to trust that they knew their own comfort levels. Even when things went wrong for LiAM he was able to speak up and work out a solution, and it didn't ruin his day or his fun. None of that could have happened if I had insisted that they walk with me, which is what the fearful part of me wanted to do. Caitlin is already planning how she can prepare for next year - and it was interesting to see that she approaches these things in a similar way to me - she was happy to go in with no preparation, and see what it was like, see where her weaknesses were, and then improve on those for next time.

We stopped to get a birthday present for LiAM's friend whose party is on Sunday, then went home and collapsed a bit, everyone was quite tired and starting to feel sore. I had a lovely long bath while the kids watched some movies and TV (Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy, and then ABC3). I finally finished reading 'The Book Thief' (which I really struggled through, I found the language hard to navigate, and it took me a long time to really care about the story) and then started 'Divergent' which I didn't want to stop reading, I am really loving it. When I got out of the bath, Caitlin trimmed my hair for me - lots of dead, dry ends after taking my dreadlocks out, and now it feels much healthier. The kids played on the computer and iPads through the afternoon, and then outside on the trampoline for a while.

Caitlin cooked dinner - spaghetti bolognese, and we watched Heartland and then Sword Art Online, both shows that we have been waiting all week to see, while Millie watched another Tinkerbell movie (loving having 2 TVs!!!). I read Eldest to the kids for a while, then finally headed to bed (where I read Divergent for a while longer....)