Determination

IMG_20140711_151558678 IMG_20140711_151624760 IMG_20140711_154404598We were at a friends house a few months ago when Lauren decided it was time to learn to ride a bike. Now, we have zero concrete at our house and live on a busy road, so we don’t have any bikes or places to ride them at our house. She’s literally never been on one before, and while I feel a little bad about that, we’ve just never been a biking family.

Lauren didn’t stop until she got it. Despite the bike being a bit wobbly, and falling off multiple times as a result, she kept getting back on, kept at it until she was confident in her ability. She stuck at it for an hour or so, and even when it was time to go home kept asking for just one more round.

I love it when she decides she wants to do something. Her sheer determination is something I’m delighted by, and the grin on her face, the look of pride when she masters something she set out to do is priceless.

We’re looking at getting bikes/scooters for Christmas now. I might have to get something for myself too, because once they’ve got wheels I’m never going to be able to keep up! lol

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Term Four – Day One

IMG_20141013_125924418_HDRThank heavens, school holidays are over! A friend said to me last night that she couldn’t wait for today so her kids would go back to school and I had to pitch in that we couldn’t either – so nice having all those other kids back at school! We can enjoy everything again! (We’d be happy if her kids were out of school with us though lol)

We started the day out with some pottering around home, then had our normal swimming trip. The families we normally swim couldn’t make it so we went a little earlier in order to come home for lunch before our first afternoon at the hall. The kids were so excited when I unlocked! Shiny, fun new space to make the most of! Two days a week where they are guaranteed to see their friends!

IMG_20141013_145258871_HDRIt was a slow stream in, and no-one was entirely sure what to do to begin with, but it wasn’t long before a range of games had cropped up and the kids reconnected with friends they hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks.

There is so much space at the hall, that many things can be IMG_20141013_143416822happening at once. We’ve got a small river off to one side, bordered on both sides by a public walkway. A clump of bamboo to explore, a large field to romp in, a bank pre-strung with ropes for climbing up, and a fire-pit waiting to be used. And the hall, too, but honestly, we spent most of our time outside. It was a lovely day for it 🙂

IMG_20141013_155114660As well as celebrating our first day at the hall, we also got to celebrate the birthday of not one, but two of our awesome mamas! So it was a pretty special day. We brought some craft supplies and made some flags. The kids developed their own ideas as well, with some making jewelry, others turning pipe cleaners into keys, and Ivy making a tote out of a pillow slip I’d brought along.

IMG_20141013_155125301_HDRI think the most precious part of the day for me was watching my youngest reconnect with a friend she hadn’t seen in a few months. Nati has always been sure that this girl would be her friend, and today that solidified once and for all. They were off together, sharing special moments, fishing in the river with some string and picking flowers. It was really beautiful 🙂

IMG_20141013_145350700_HDRI can see lots of fun times ahead here. The kids can’t wait to get back there again and I almost said, yes, we’ll see everyone next week, then realized we only have to wait until Thursday! It’s just lovely to have a dedicated space with plenty of room for everything.

Farm Visit – Part 2

After the bush walk (Part 1), we ventured down to the cow shed.

IMG_20140703_140211624_HDRThere were about 5 cows who had lost their calves and so needed milking, and the small number meant it was the perfect opportunity to show the kids what it was all about.

IMG_20140703_141739162_HDRWe started off with Sam explaining to the kids what happens to the milk once it comes out of the cows.

We followed the pipes through into the room where all the equipment was and he answered a million questions about from the kids about the process and what each piece of equipment was for.

IMG_20140703_141808637_HDREven for the couple that aren’t so good with loud noises, they stayed and listened to the whole thing (though, covered their ears at times). They were really interested in the process.

After that it was back into the shed where Sam brought the cows in and lined them up – it was here that we learned possibly the piece of information that will stay with us all the longest!

When a cow is scared, it poops – Sam explained this after the kids were making a bit too much noise and frightened them.

IMG_20140703_142305931_HDRThey all watched with interest as he put the cups on and showed them the difference between a cow with a full udder and an empty udder, and reminded them again of where the milk goes.

Overall it was an awesome trip. The kids asked a lot of questions and really made the most of the experience. I don’t think any of them had been in a shed before, and despite the noise and mess they were all really engaged.

Farm visit – Part 1

A few months ago we took some of our home schooling friends down to the farm my brother had just moved onto. They have a nice native ecosystem there to explore, and also he was happy to take them on a tour of the cowshed and demonstrate the process with the few cows he was already milking. There were 9 kids in total, and 5 adults.

Part One will be about our bush walk, and part Two about the Cow shed. There will be a Part Three at some point when I get the photos from one of the other mums. My brother is an avid archer and set up his little range and taught the kids the basics of archery – they all LOVED getting to have a go!

the safety talkWe walked down the track and through a paddock to get to the top entrance of this piece of bush. Sam gave the kids a bit of a safety talk before we headed in because there is a big drop about 5 metres to one side of where we walked – the children were to stay well back, ask for help if they needed it, and make sure to stay with the group. Here Sam is beginning to lead the group into the bush.

IMG_20140703_132506927We had brought along our book about fungus in New Zealand, and while the bigger kids tromped ahead with Sam, the younger ones hung back with me and another mum and we spotted a huge variety of fungus, and then found them in the book so we could learn a little more about them. I was amazed by the variety we found, but also really impressed with how closely the kids were looking for new types, and their deductive skills in searching through the book to find a match.

IMG_20140703_133020063 IMG_20140703_133011626Some weren’t quite as obvious as the images in the book, but we still managed to identify the majority.

I thought this one was pretty cool. We did see some less trampled specimens a bit further on, but I didn’t snap a pic of those.

Probably the most amazing part of our bush adventure was seeing a morepork! I think the parents were more impressed than the kids were (it’s just an owl, mum, what’s the big deal), so we had to explain to them that morepork are nocturnal, but also rarely seen.

moreporkI grew up in the country and heard them most nights, but I’ve never seen one before, let alone in the middle of the day. The photo doesn’t do this small, beautiful bird justice.

I heard something rustle a tree and then it swooped out of the branches and landed on the branch of another, about 8 feet from the ground and the same distance from us. It literally sat there watching us for a few minutes, not at all bothered as we crept closer for a better view. The kids were so quiet, and the adults were in awe. Gosh, it was magical. A gift.

When we’d all had a good look, the morepork swooped off, completely silent. Majestic.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

omg it's snow!This winter we finally made it up to the snow!

We live right under a mountain, so it’s not location that has been the trouble. Last winter we seemed to get hit with a lot of bugs, and the winters before it was just too hard, what with two small kids needing naps at different times etc. The older the kids get, the easier everything gets, so we were thrilled to adventure in the snow with our friends this year.

OlafNaturally, as we drove up and hit the snowline the girls burst into songs from Frozen, and one of the first things they did (after running around gleefully) was build an Olaf. He looks pretty awesome, and Ivy was super chuffed with it.

It was really cool to see them working together to roll different sized balls, and working out how to make the snow move – they discovered that it certainly isn’t as easy as it looks in some cartoons! They scanned the area, finding the right components for eyes and arms and a smile.

After they’d had enough of building snowmen they explored the area near the car park where it was icy, rather than snowy, testing for areas of weakness and stomping through those to the slushy ice water below – and then, of course, came snowball throwing!

IMG_20140724_133038176_HDRWe moved location for this, and the kids had fun throwing balls of snow at a tank near the information centre, watching them splat as they landed, they also threw them at each other (after checking to see who was okay with that, man I love these kids and their respect for each other!). Ivy enjoyed throwing them into space to see how they deteriorated over distance.

IMG_20140724_130921976_HDRAs you can see in the photo to the right, a couple of the kids started building a mammoth snow ball, which they brought down the hill visible in the same picture, halfway across the carpark to another hill they’d spotted. It lost  lot of mass along the way, but it took them all their effort to keep it moving.

I was really impressed with their determination, co-ordination, and the team work they showed in this. It started off as one boys idea, but they all got behind it and pitched in.

IMG_20140724_133518377It didn’t roll down the hill quite as well as they had hoped, but when they gave it that last nudge and it crashed to the bottom (one of the boys ended up sliding down with it! lol), they were all really pleased with themselves. I wish I’d been able to snap a pic of their triumphant faces, thankfully it’s etched in my memory!

We ended our trip with a visit to the cafe and some hot chips – well earned, if you ask me.

So much to blog about…

IMG_20140728_124504765_HDROver the next few days I am going to try to attempt to catch up on blog posts. I’ve just copied over all the photos from my phone to my computer and there is heaps I never got a chance to put up! Seeing as it’s school holidays and we’re out and about a little less (everything is just SO busy during the school hols and none of us enjoy that). Hopefully I’ll be able to keep on top of things from here on in – I have just two and a bit weeks until my last assignment is handed in and then I’m FREE. I can’t wait to just be a mother and writer, and leave the student days in the past. I’ve learned so much, but it will be nice to have a smaller workload.IMG_20140925_105358203

I thought, however, that I’d put in a couple of pics here to skim over a few of the events of the past 4 months or so, which should leave me with just a few posts to do 😉IMG_20140728_124144710

1404001945208Someone turned four – she had a dinosaur birthday for the second year in a row, and I imagine there will be another one next year! lol We made an epic triceratops pinata, after it met its end, Nati was pretty gutted and we’re going to making a smaller one for her to keep at some point.1403907087918

1405402073283Someone else got taken to Phantom of the Opera! I’ve been dying to go since I was a kid, and have lovely memories of singing along to the record with my mother. Ivy has loved the movie since she was little, so it was pretty amazing to be able to experience the live show for the first time together. Not sure who enjoyed it more – me or her!IMG_20140717_185726105

IMG_20140925_110657748We’ve had lots of nice bush walks, trips to the park and beach, and just, in general, been enjoying life. Lots of library visits, catching up with friends, learning a vast range of things.IMG_20140714_113258149

It’s been possibly the best winter we’ve ever had, in large part due to the fact we’ve been out and about so much – we even had a few trips to the snow (put that’s a whole other post).

Term 3 Swimming

Since beginning the term, we’ve managed to make all but one week of our new swimming session (and we only missed it then because we were all going to Chipmunks for one of our friends birthday parties). This regular time slot, swimming with our friends, has been amazing for the girls confidence in the water and every week I’ve been impressed to see them trying new things.

Ivy has stopped wanting to hold her nose when she’s under the water, improved her freestyle vastly and been enjoying lots of swimming in the deep end. She’s still working on mastering sculling, but she’s getting there. She’s also taken part in several sessions with a lifeguard and the other older kids in our group, learning how to do ‘safety jumps’. The lifeguards have been great since we’ve spoken to them about having time in the deep end, and it’s nice that our kids can splash around now without annoying any aqua-joggers.

Lauren has gone from being afraid to getting her head under the water, to being a little dolphin! She spends most of her time under the water now, learning new ways to move her body and travel. She loves to jump in and does so without needing me to catch her now. She’s spending time in the deep end too, though still needs my assistance – but she can get back to the edge on her own now which is awesome. The jump is too high for her to do safety jumps, but just last week her and a friend were doing their own version off the edge in the shallower ends. Love that they are copying what the big kids are doing in a way that is safe for them! She’s been a great motivator for one of her younger friends too, role modelling and encouraging her to go under the water as well and take some more (safe) risks. I have loved watching the two of them become so confident in the water over the term.

Natalie has been doing her own thing as well. She’s moving around a lot more confidently, and jumping off the side of the poo into my arms, and occasionally by herself in the shallower parts, though until just last week, was entirely unconvinced about a) wearing goggles, and b) putting her head under the water. This last week she decided to give the new goggles a better go and seemed to enjoy not getting water in her eyes as much. Funnily, it was after she discarded them that she decided to show me a new trick – putting her head under the water! I was so thrilled. She showed a few other people, and is feeling pretty chuffed with herself. I imagine that in another six months she’ll be just as active beneath the water as her sisters.

I wish I had some pics to share, but I’m always in the water with them. It’s lovely to see their confidence blooming and their skills growing – every week at least one of them has tried something new. We’re looking forward to the weather warming up and doing some swimming in the sea and rivers around the area – which will mean a whole new set of skills!