Gratitude

IMG_20140721_135117481It’s been a few months since I blogged here but I’m back! (haha, this is even funnier seeing as I never got around to finishing this post when I started it 😉 lol)

We’ve started term three off with some new routines, and a new focus – Gratitude. I’ve been noticing over the months how easy it is for everyone (not just kids) to look at the bad stuff and let all the good things pass by without notice or mention, so we decided to kick off term three by making gratitude jars. We had a few families over at our house after our first swim of the term, so it was neat to share the activity with them.

Everyone picked  jar, and we got out all the art supplies so the kids could choose what they wanted on their jars. Ivy decided to glue seed beads on to spell out her name as well as adding some feathers and stickers, Lauren opted for a combination of feathers, glass paint, beads and stickers, and Natalie used some glass paint, stickers and feathers.

Afterwards, the girls put in their first gratitudes, and I could tell within days that they were expanding their thinking a little – it was never a struggle to find something to put in the jar, if anything, it was a struggle to keep it down to one or two things.

Some of the most common things that they are grateful for are their friends and family, that they got to go somewhere like the pool or park, or have a new experience like building a snowman. Some of the less common ones include being grateful that butterflies don’t eat people (Lauren), and being grateful for farts (Natalie – gotta love the 4yr old humor lol).

One of the most lovely things about this has been the way it’s deepened some of their friendships – not just with those who made the jars with us, but in general. The girls are more aware of the wonderful people in their lives, and when they add things to the jar they’ve also been able to pass those things along to their friends. I actually text a friend to tell her that Ivy had written that she was lucky to have a great friend in her daughter, but her daughter was playing on her phone and text me back to say that she was really lucky to have Ivy as a friend too! When I told Ivy her whole face lit up. Words are powerful, and it’s important to tell people you care about them.

Personally, I am thankful that I have the opportunity to home school my kids, and that our lives are filled with awesome people.

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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).

A nook

We’ve been doing some shuffling of rooms around the house over the last few days, culminating in the big move today – back across the hall from the kids. I’m hoping this gives the house more flow, with the school/play room coming off the lounge, and the bedrooms both in the same part of the house. We’ve been here for almost 6 years now, and I think I might have finally cracked it.

IMG_20140930_144139651An unexpected, and wonderful, result of this has been the creation of a quiet nook in our bedroom. We’ve gone for a slightly unusual layout, and I love what we’ve created. It’s a little room created in a corner behind the headboard when you shut the door.

Natalie (4) has needed a lot of time out lately. She’s working through her emotions in a practical way and has decided that when she feels bad/angry/sad about things, the best thing for her is some quiet time. Now, I’ve never sent her to time out – it’s just not something we do in our house – so it’s completely under her own steam. I think I must use the phrase ‘time out’ when I need some space and peace, because it’s what she says.

Because the girls all share a bedroom (their own choice), it can be hard to get some alone time, and sometimes it’s not very convenient for having ‘time out’ when it’s bed time and everyone else is trying to get in there. We’ve found ways to work around it, but she has been quite desperate for a quiet space she could go.

IMG_20140930_145049436And I am so pleased we’ve been able to create one.

The girls have spent a lot of time today relaxing in the nook. Natalie took a book in and that gave me an idea. I suggested we get a little box and put some things in it that might help whoever needs the nook to relax and the girls thought it was a brilliant idea! So I found a box, and they came up with the things they wanted in it. Awesome 🙂

On the decision to medicate

A few weeks ago we started a medication trial for Ivy. Standard stuff, really, when your kid has ADHD. This is not our first trial – we did concede to one less than two years ago when she was still at school and we’d just got her diagnosis. At the time, I think she was under so much stress, her system barely coping with the pressure of regular school, that they didn’t seem to make a difference at all. There was too much going on to notice the difference until she’d obviously had too much.

So we stopped.

Since taking her out of school she has come a really long way. She’s no longer depressed, and in general she is happy, and has found her love of learning again. Not in the conventional sense, as she doesn’t do well with sitting still, and prefers to watch videos than read books – personally, I’m not so much worried about the medium through which she is learning, just that she is. The fact that her curiosity and willingness to try things returned after leaving school was simply wonderful.

That said, she’s nine now, and her inability to focus has started to become more of a problem. She can read, but doesn’t enjoy it and I know from her father that he struggled with that too. She can write, but again, loses focus really quickly so it’s messy and unorganized (her words) and that makes her dislike it even more. These simple but important tasks are difficult, and increasingly getting in the way of her engagement with learning the things she wants, so we decided it was time to give the meds another shot. We talked to her about it, talked about how it had changed things for her father, and she thought it sounded like a good idea.

It amazed me that within a couple of days (once we got to the right dose) we could see a massive difference – she settled down a lot, all of her constant movement and noise making died away, she was calm, and so much quieter (it’s a little disturbing actually! lol as frustrating as it can be to have constant noise in the house, it feels unnatural to have calm and peace), and more astoundingly, she suddenly has a lot more clarity around peoples intentions and emotions.

I think was the most amazing transition, and a totally unexpected one. We had thought she was perhaps on the autism spectrum but now I am wondering if it’s all ADHD. I need to talk more with her psychologist about it, and it will be interesting to unpack, but when she’s on the meds she seems to be more connected, able to be more loving with her friends and family, than when not on the meds. She doesn’t take everything personally, or insantly interpret every ‘no’ as meaning that we don’t love her. Not only this, but those pleasant times she has had while medicated have solidified her relationships with her siblings to the point where they actually call each other ‘best friends’ now, and she has an easier time relating to them even when not on the meds. It’s beautiful, watching their friendships finally blossom.

It’s been really encouraging that she’s responding so well to it, despite the fact that figuring out the right dosage and top up times is mostly down to trial and error. There have been ups and downs, a roller coaster as the medication works and wears off. But, she always wants to try again the next day, and that is what helps me to feel okay about it. We’re trying a slow release medication now, and are hopeful that it will make the day smoother for her.

I’m a lot more comfortable with the decision to medicate now, and while I know it’s not for everyone, and think that those who choose to go without, or try different alternatives are also doing the best for their kids (we went without any meds for almost two years after getting her diagnosis), I’m pleased that we gave it another shot. Having seen what a difference it made in her father made me willing to try for her. And now, having seen what a difference it makes in her, I’m positive that it was the right call in this situation.

An interest in reading

As seems to be Lauren’s nature, she has now decided that she wants to be able to read. She doesn’t really want to learn to write though, and isn’t interested in learning the letters and the sounds they make. She just wants to be able to read. Preferably yesterday.

WP_20140119_005This came on night two of our reading sessions – she always has a cuddle before bed, but after spending a few weeks reading Harry Potter with Ivy at bedtime, Lauren decided she wanted a book instead of a long ‘talk time’ so, we brought that in. The second night, she took the book off me and declared that she was going to read it, and then gave it back, admitting she didn’t know how.

I’m learning to think outside the box a little when it comes to Lauren. She needs to make instant progress, and so I grabbed the tablet from beside my bed and flicked onto the Eggy Sight Words app. She’s not been overly interested in this until now, in fact, I think Natalie has played it more than anyone, but I figured she could learn a couple of words, and then read those ones for me when we reached them in the book. On her first night, she learned ‘the’, ‘and’, and ‘to’. Thankfully, there were a lot of those words in the book, and she had fun practicing reading them. She was full of smiles, and a beautiful sense of achievement, knowing that she could ‘read’ some words.

Eggy sight words is a pretty cool app, though it’s a little slow in some regards. You have a word to recognise, and it flies across the screen in eggs. There are other words flying around too, and items like potatoes, pans, regular eggs, and pigs. If you touch something that isn’t the word, you lose a life, and if you miss an egg with the right word, you also lose a life. Sometimes the eggs move so fast that even I can barely tell what’s on them, and other times you can sit there for a full minute without the word coming up. There are smiley face eggs that give you life back, and also puzzle piece eggs, and I think they also count as a word.

WP_20140119_009Lauren doesn’t need to get to 25 words (which is what it takes to win a level) before she can recognise them, and she is more interested in putting her new knowledge to the test than finishing a game, so typically I will tap away while she grabs the book we’re reading to find the words she has learned.

The main down fall of the game is that the flying pigs are just SO much fun to squish! lol she can’t seem to resist them. It becomes a game in itself, of her trying to catch the pigs and then counting her lives and making sure she has enough not to lose (and winning some back when she gets a smiley face egg).

One of the things I love most…

WP_001485About home schooling, is the ability to be so flexible in our day. The weather has just come out stunning which means we’re spending a lot of time outside. Today Natalie asked if we could go to the zoo to see the brolga, and I said sure! Let’s go.

WP_001482I’d never actually seen the brolga myself, so I was kind of interested in the bird that has captured her attention. She has been to the zoo twice with her father in the last couple weeks and so it was their thing for a bit. She took great pride in leading us to the bird and showing it off.

After a quick visit to our favourite animals the kids made the most of the sunshine and spent some time playing on the playground and just having fun. Bliss!

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