Thursday, August 17, 2017

English, Instruments and Floral Appreciation

Other than reflecting over today, I have sat down and wondered what we have been doing.  It's been an odd sort of week, but we have managed to get through a few interesting things.  Arden has been doing a mixture of pen and ink as well as grammar for his current new learning.  We are reading Charles Kovacs' "Norse Mythology" which I am not a huge fan of, but I like that it looks at some different versions of the myths from my preferred book by Padraic Colum, and Arden has been interested in hearing this version too.  Today was a bit interesting, as usually Irving will listen or do something nearby whilst we read these days, today however our reading was interspersed with playmobile games, of knights and pirates.

Charles Kovacs "Norse Myths".

Arden's sketch of miolnir.

My pen and ink of Frey's sword.

Sigurd's sword, Gram by Arden.

For Arden's English we've been looking at perfect tenses, continuous tenses, verbs and consistency (plural, singular, etc) and passive and active voice (including object and subject in this discussion obviously).  Arden had started asking some questions to Damien and I recently about this, so it was nice to explore it further.  We tend to do a little writing, and lots of talking out examples to let the idea really settle.  With Willow and Gabriel, when we did this, I mostly used websites that I found online, and my understanding of it, was pretty average ( we started doing this in yr 7, and then never did any more grammar in high school).  Last year we picked up a DK book on English, and generally I like DK books, so this year we used it as our guide.  To be honest I think if your child loves writing and reading, that is 3/4 of what it takes to be good at English, and of course reading quality books.  I'm happy for the kids to read almost whatever, from the library in their own time, but when we read together, I rarely read something to them post 1950,as the quality of language decays significantly the more modern the book.

DK English book

Arden's sketch and writing.  Arden has a tendency to turn *everything* into art, so sometimes the writing is interesting, as he explores an idea for how he can write.  (Sometimes I request regular writing, sometimes I ask what *on earth* he is doing....such as in one of the examples here where he was trying to write his sentence in the shape of a triangle!)

Arden's and my form drawing for the week.

Arden and I are messing about with a bit of embroidery on old clothing.

There is a plan for some sort of cactus embroidery, after we've experimented.  At the idea stage.

Some moments during the week.

Candlelight on a thundery morning.  Just because we can.


Arden has been busy cooking recipes from around the world recently for dinner (using Jamie Oliver's cook book Jamie Does...) and I've been trying out German baking, to re-experience my childhood of Australian German baking.  I picked up this book from the library and will have to buy a copy, there are so many things in here that I remember from my Nanna's house growing it made me realise where my love of poppy seed cake is from.

Hazelnut macarons (haselnuss-himbeer makronen) before the addition of jam.
Gabriel received a kit from Pitbull Guitars this week, for him to put together his own guitar. Willow made her own harp via a workshop, at a similar age, and since Gabriel is interested in guitar we thought that this seemed like an interesting project, that gives some insight into instrument construction.

And some flowers because the bunch was made just for me!  Can't help but feel good about that!  As a customer it's lovely to shop local and get treated by the shopkeeper.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Past Week

We all got back into our at home schooling routine this week, and turns out it has been helpful.  Irving has been loving being involved in all of Arden's activities, and has been really getting into doing maths with Arden in particular.  (He's so keen that he wanted me to get the JUMP book out for him.)  Arden is also quite please because we received a new lot of Life of Fred books (goldfish, honey, icecream and jellybeans) and he has been getting into them again.

This week Arden and I are back into doing English and we've been looking at tenses and sentence structure and reading about Norse Mythology.  To compliment this, we've also been doing some pen and ink drawing.  Seem to have missed photographing Arden's picture this week, but here is mine.

Arden has almost finished his embroidered cushion, and we just need to stuff and sew it now.
We're planning his next piece which will likely be cross-stitch, and something to do with cacti.  (He's got a small collection of cacti, and is wanting to get a venus fly trap next.)

Gabriel has moved onto looking at social sciences, and we're looking at freedom and political systems.  We had been contemplating reading "1984" and also seeing the stage play, but decided to leave it, after reading the reviews, and also because Gabriel was expressing a preference to reading "Fahrenheit 451".  He also headed to a talk this past week with Damien, on judiciary in WA.  Apparently it was a little dry, but did spark some further conversation.

Gabriel has started on the process of making himself some trousers.  He's making some out of cord, with floral pockets.  I'm almost finished making him some linen trousers.  I ran out of thread with the belt loops and hems to go.

Cutting out the pattern

The colour is an olive green, and really didn't come out well in this shot

As Gabriel is focusing his art studies around Games Workshop, we decided that it would be interesting to see other exhibitions that relate to models.  Since the Brickman lego exhibit was in town, and we are all mad lego fans, we all had to go.  We got a bit engrossed, and really didn't get to see it in as much detail as we would have liked.

Great Barrier Reef


Some lego building by Arden

Today, Gabriel and I headed to the Art Gallery of WA, to see the sneakers exhibition, it was an interesting progression through the history of the shoe, and into the more artistic creative aspects of the modern sneaker.  We were intending for us all to go, but Damien was feeling a but unwell, so we will have to go back with the others.  Going just with Gabriel, did mean, that we could take our time and have a thorough look through the exhibition.

Arden has been wondering about his grandfathers (both died before he was born) and so for their birthdays this year we baked them cakes.  My family heritage on my Dad's side is German, and he often brought home streusel cakes after visiting my Nana, so we decided to make him one.

Dough is waiting topping.

Ready out of the oven!

We had a rather cold middle of the morning recently, and so Willow, Gabriel, Arden and I all headed out for a coffee.  (We were trying to take advantage of the cold, as it is never here very long.)  Arden has been enjoying doing some food photography when we are out ( as well as other things,from time to time) and got a couple of lovely shots of his hot chocolate at duotone.  He's sharing his photographs @ardenaragorn on instagram.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Vision for Life

How did we get here?  I must admit as a first time parent in my mid 20s there was no way that I ever would have envisioned that my eldest child would have been home educated for all but a couple of years of school.

Damien and I started out parenthood with the idea that our family unit was important, and that being connected and supported in our relationship was important and that supporting each other and our child(ren) was our priority.
Our main priority for ourselves when we met, was happiness and to have a happy relationship.  This was our vision for our future, and this has been the motivator for many of our decisions.

We started home education, because it seemed convenient for relocating back to Australia.  We stopped home education because Willow needed more social contact.  We returned to home education because Willow's happiness and our own family harmony were more important to us than the schooling system. 

With Willow being in school (in Scotland), home educated in Scotland, France and Adelaide, and back in school (in Adelaide) it became clearer to Damien and I that some of our own problems as young adults were purely to do with school and its systemisation.  We could see some of this appearing in some of the kids in Willow's school in Adelaide, certain behaviours that the 7yr olds were developing to cope with being in the system, that parents explained away as a stage, and that Damien and I with our new perspective could see was the kids finding ways to cope with have too few adults to spend time with, be supported by and to model grown-up behaviour from.

Within a very short time of removing Willow from school the anti-social behaviours that she was displaying at home vanished, and when on further questioning on my part, about how much happier she seemed, 7yr old Willow declared, "I don't have to act any more Mummy."

So this formed the basis for our decisions around education, these transformative experiences, started us on this wonderful and at times challenging but always inspiring journey that has lead us towards a usually contented home life based around education and learning.  This has meant that only Willow attended school, and that Gabriel and Arden have never been, and that Irving is heading towards being registered for home education next year.  For the littler ones in particular this experience has been all encompassing and nurturing, being surrounded by their family that loves them most of the time, and having an understanding that learning is inspiring and interesting and exciting. 

When they go out into the world, they transition into being independant, and they are not rudely and sharply separated from their family, and the feeling of safety that that offers them.  The separation that happens does so gently over the years: time at classes with parents present, time at classes without parents present, time with friends, time at home alone, time walking to the shop,etc.  Each skill is built up gradually and gently and each separation is partly encouraged by Damien and I, and by our child.  In the early years, this can feel very slow, but in a larger family there are so many other activities happening that the later years of school travel past quite quickly and all of a sudden, home education is coming to an end, and new experiences past school are being planned and created.

One final note, in our family, one of the main occurrences during the years to keeping life happy and content, is to always resolve emotional disturbances and disharmonies on the spot.  Some days this has meant at home learning has gone out the window, as we sit and work out and sometimes have a good cry, about life and what has been going on.  But these times of disharmony, have always worked out in our favour, as we as a family, have learnt about emotions together and have language and skills to problem solve our feelings, and the problems that they can create.  For me pre-children this was the path that I was starting that lead us to this place, the path towards being able to find and create happiness, and be content most of the time.

So my question to anyone starting home education is...What is your goal for your family?

Some of our moments...
Coffee mornings with Damien have become a thing around here, after him missing us all in the mornings!  (We tend to be later risers) 

Hanging out at the playground with nice to have teens that have fun with everyone, that like to chat with people, and to have a family of people that look out for each other.  (Little one has a way to go with this obviously!)

Things to do whilst waiting for your older siblings...."pop"...umbrella fun!

One of Arden's latest passions, photography.  Hot chocolate on a cold day!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Winter Break!

Well unsurprisingly the last 5weeks have flown by!  We had a few jobs to do around here, in particular getting the carpet cleaned in all the bedrooms created a little chaos, but it's nice to have our home feeling refreshed after a thorough clean!  Everyone around here has jobs to do, and in some ways the little ones (Arden and Irving) are easier to direct to tasks, as Damien and I have more realistic expectations of where and how they can help, than we did with the older two, and they are accustomed to the idea that everyone has to help out to make our home feel loved and be liveable.  So we pulled all the furniture out of all the bedrooms, got the carpet cleaned and moved everybody into different rooms!  Was a bit of a job, but satisfying at the end when everything looked and felt so nice!

We headed off the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's performance of "The Arrival", this time at UWA.  We had seen this before, but we love Shaun Tan's books and figured it would be worth seeing again.  It was the first time for Irving to see it, and he was entranced!  We had a little walk through UWA's gardens (I do love it there!)

We have an enormous old suitcase filled with lego, and I thought that it was time we started sorting it (we made quite a bit of progress but still have to finish).  The amount of blocks has been making it hard for everyone to rebuild models, so I started putting things into coloured boxes.  We managed to get one of our oldest sets rebuilt...The Knight Bus!

And whilst on the Harry Potter theme, Gabriel decided that he is interested in reading Harry Potter in Latin, and the first book arrived in the post recently!
"Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis".

We managed to get down to Elizabeth Quay for some iceskating again this year, we had been all intending to go, but we left booking a little late.  Personally I preferred the ice-skating being in the cultural centre, where we could sit and watch the skaters more easily, but the rink is a better size at the Quay.  Also we missed the very early sessions, when we could get up whilst it was still cold and feel like we were somewhere wintery!

Otherwise over the break, I've managed to get a little sewing in (working on my first pair of trousers-linen ones for Gabriel), taking in a skirt, learning about pattern drafting, adding embellishments to some pants that I had that are starting to look a bit sad!  So I've been pleased to clear out my pile a bit...still some stuff left there and a few days left, so hopefully more will get done!  Plus Gabriel's trousers aren't quite finished!  I ran out of thread, just as I got to the hems and sewing the belt loops!  :/  Gabriel and I had hoped to get through the pair he'll make during the break, but instead we're only just starting them.  On a positive not I feel like I know the process of making them well enough that it should go fairly smoothly.

Irving and Arden and I have also done a few walks, bike rides, bit of scootering and skateboarding and catching up with friends.  We'd been a bit slack with getting Arden riding a bike, he had a balance bike when small, but we hadn't got around to him pedalling, so we finally got that sorted, and spent some time alone the river.  Plus of course given the time of year that it is, we got wellies out and went splashing through puddles!

Checking out the water draining.

Puddles at the Park.

Stopping off for a drink!  (Plus had to take wellies off to be comfy!)

Umbrellas in preparation for rain, and heading out for a walk with Willow!

Relaxing in the various seasonal weather!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Time Constraints

I must admit that now that we have come into Irving's 4th year of life I was hoping that I would have more time to post on this blog a bit more regularly, and some of the time I can manage it, and other times this year, I feel like we are off doing something, supporting Willow on her uni experience or having family time.  We are finally on our winter break, and it is lovely to be able to take it a easy for a bit, and also enjoy the very mild winter that we have been experiencing.

Arden and I did some history walks around the city, earlier this past term, including an art deco tour of Perth and a Boom and Bust trail

Fabulous art deco building on Wellington st, was once a school.  We had a chat about going to school in such a beautiful old building, and talked about trying to imagine all the girls leaving school  (it was a girls' school).

We liked this gate.
We imagine that it once went up the hill, and to St. Mary's cathedral, but now it is barricaded and looks into the carpark!

We enjoyed a few coffee stops on our outing...part of the fun IMO.  Matcha lattes have been going down well around here!  :)

This was a nice surprise.

We discovered this hidden garden on our walk, on the way to trying to find the back view of Bishop Hale's house.  Even after living her 6years now, the city still has some unexpected surprises.  It did feel a bit like an elite hideaway, given that it is tucked down the back of bank offices, and was totally deserted since it was the weekend when we went through.

And at the very back of the garden, we could see Bishop Hale's house, which is now a restaurant.  Made us wonder about what other beautiful homes might be once been along the terrace and in the area.
We had been intending to get to Tranby house during this last block, but that still hasn't happened, and so will sit on my to do list for a while I imagine.  The last block that Arden did was focusing on animals, and some of their processes.  Arden did a bit of study on cuttlefish (I had not idea they were so fascinating- can change colour and shape!), Giraffes and Siberian tigers.  Plus we had some discussions about humans and sex and babies, and he did a self portrait. For Sex and babies we are big fans of the BBC's Human Body Series, and Willow and Gabriel grumble now when I show it!  I used it twice as preparation for the kids for home births (the younger two were born at home), as I like that it gives a bit of insight into birthing at home and avoids the horror stories that some women experience (which IMO is not a healthful introduction to birth and babies for small people).

Arden's self portrait.

Arden managed to finish his embroidery project and I need to help him to create it into a pillow now, and we took a break from formal maths, as he is a bit ahead, and we spent some time looking at the Wooden books mathematical series.  He also has been spending some time getting familar with his new wooden piccolo.

Gabriel has been working on doing some sketches of Games Workshop miniatures for his  art this term.  He will be progressing on to modelling and designing his own.  His sketches are coming along beautifully.

Gabriel has been improving his time management and we are now discussing his progress twice a week.  Beginning of week to see what he's up to,and at the end of the week to review his progress.  He is currently working on writing in the style of an epic, and is also planning an essay on the Trojan War.

Arden and Irving and I went down to WAAPA to see Eneksis in their free lunch time concert, we saw some of it, however Irving was finding it a bit difficult to settle this time.  A lovely lady, kept an eye on Arden so he could watch all of it, and then we spent a little time in the nearby park again, and we took a look at the fish pond.

Irving has been taking a little interest in writing and numbers, and is starting to get a bit easier to play games with.  Turns out he is quite adept with mazes too!
Some copywork by Irving.

Damien and I went down to see Willow perform in WAAPA's Life as a Cabaret performance recently.  She only had a small part as a volunteer and diploma student, but it was fabulous to get to see her in a show again, and doubly fun as it was probably the first child free wedding anniversary Damien and I have had since before Willow was born....though as she pointed out not quite child free!  She has also been doing a lot of drawing, and writing now that she is on  holidays, and has recovered from her weekend volunteering at Supernova.

Willow's drawing
Willow has finally made it in Australia!
I was a little tempted to buy Willow this baby bib.  At the time of her birth I did not like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Damien found the name in an old story....sadly he doesn't know where!  Anyhow at the time of her birth there were very few Willows ( we liked that it means liberated in old English), and now she keeps being asked if she was named after Willow on Buffy, and unfortunately for her it was just not the case! 

I have finally finished sewing myself a bag, and now have 2 nice bags!  For years and years, I've had fairly sad bags for carrying all sorts of children's treasure, and as with my decision to be clean with my fourth child (no more smudgy marked pants for me!), nice bags seemed to be in order...even if they do still end up with interesting collections!

Bag no. One.

Bag number two

I also made another bra recently, and am thinking of trying a silk one next.

This past week has seen us busy giving the house a clean over, celebrating Irving's 4th birthday and heading off to see Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" performed by Spare Parts Puppet theatre.

Candles and Cake for Irving's birthday
Wandering through UWA on the way to see the Arrival.
Enjoying the mild winter at Elizabeth Quay with the family.