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.

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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.

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.

Meeting of the Waters

WP_20140515_003About ten days ago we went out to Meeting of the Waters for a bush walk with friends. We’ve had some beautiful Autumn weather lately and I’m enjoying making the most of the chilly mornings and the sunny days. It’s perfect – Autumn is probably my favourite season.

In preparation for the walk, my youngest dragged out our native plant book and set about memorising as many names of plants as she could. I was really impressed with her Maori pronunciation seeing as it’s not something we’ve focused on that much so far. She loved looking at the pictures and we ended up taking the book with us and showing it to our friends.

WP_20140515_004And then we made some peanut-butter, chocolate chip cookies because they are delicious and it’s always nice to have something freshly made to share with friends. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, for us!) none of them really liked the biscuits lol but that’s okay because there was more for us.

WP_20140515_009The walk was really nice. We went around the Araheke Loop first, which is a flat, easy track with many small bridges (most with swamp under them, not rivers). The bigger kids ran off ahead and the smaller two hung back with me and another Mum. It’s a great walk for this kind of thing because the kids can get the sense that they are alone, and ahead of the pack, while the parents are never truly that far behind. They waited for us at the beginning of the loop as we were walking a bit slower and stopping to see all the interesting fungi along the way (pics of that to come in another post).

By the time we finished the Araheke Loop some other friends had rejoined us, and so we did the shorter walk on the other side (more of a slow run, really, the kids where in fine form after a quick snack break between walks!

I’ll quit talking and just post some more pictures – the kids checking out the signs, holding hands and helping each other across the stones (I was most impressed by the girls, looking out for each other), and then making a train to head into the second walk.

 

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Waitangi Day walk

Thursday the 6th was Waitangi Day here in New Zealand, which meant it was a public holiday and Simon was home. Home schooling friends of ours – hell, they are practically family! lol – invited us to go on a family bush walk around Barrett Domain. The weather was beautiful, so we packed a picnic lunch and off we went!

WP_000240Normally when we have been there before, we’ve just taken the main track to the lagoon due to small legs and arms which got tired from carrying small folk, but this time we took the first exit off onto the ‘lagoon bush walk’ and took the longest route to the lagoon. The kids had a great time looking at everything – trees, spider webs, berries and leaves that had dropped on the ground. Lauren is my little collector and by the time we’d made it to the lake I had a sample of leaves, pods and feathers in my pocket.

WP_000236We stopped several times to admire the shapes of the trees and see the massive spiderwebs among the roots, but the kids mostly seemed to be enjoying running/fast walking along the paths. And the kids stopped at every sign to make decisions about which way we’d go – up or down, left or right, it was really nice to be able to give the kids some control over the decision making, knowing that no matter what the choice, the walk wouldn’t be too hard or too long for them.

WP_000244While we ate lunch the kids looked out across the lagoon, taking note of the insect and bird life they could see, and thinking about what kind of animals might live there that we couldn’t see. It was a really nice outing, and I love that my kids have such amazing friends – it’s not often that you can find such a good match for your family, for both kids and adults, and I think we hit the jack pot with the Rata’s (who I have just noticed have their own post up! lol great minds).

WP_000250WP_000249I think my favourite moment of the day was when Lauren found a skull on the ground. She’s a very girly girl, but she grabbed it without a second thought, and held it up excitedly! I was excited for her and I love the fact that she went straight for it, no worries about it being dirty or anything. We put it in one of the empty lunch bags to bring home and she showed it off to the other kids. We’re planning on looking up skull shapes to identify what it is, and in the meantime it’s been cleaned and it sitting on the window sill.