Holiday activities, gym comp. Learning. In season fruit – Feijoas are weird and an acquired taste but the kid likes them. Baking.
I haven’t really updated here all that much recently. It’s not been a intentional absence as some sort of commentary on my life or of whats going on in the world. Just an accumulation of being busy and not taking many pictures in the past two months.
That’s not to say we have been idle or bored. We got back home to NZ on the last day of June and heralded in 3 weeks of motel living, catching up with friends, playdates, furniture shopping, curtain ordering, and getting back onto an even keel.
The second week home saw massive snowfall and some great fun for the kids (and adults!)
We have moved into our new house and are loving it. Obviously I did have ideas of elaborate and artistic pictures taken of my favourite parts of our new place, but thats not happened yet – it might eventually but perhaps don’t hold your breath for it?
I am baking, cooking and generally starting to feel like I’m reconnecting with my happy space of creating a home for my little family and taking care of them.
The kid is getting back into all activities. She’s very excited to be learning her dances for the end of year ballet and jazz show (Peter Pan!). I was very proud of her having a very respectable outing for a short notice gymnastics ribbon day. Not bad considering she’s missed 6 months of learning the routines etc that all her team mates have had. Settling back into gym is taking a little longer – she adores gymnastics but we are still trying to find the right balance that reflects the training she was so loving in the UK.
And once settled we got kittens. While we still miss our old guys massively these little bundles are just pure perfection. The whiter/creamier ones is our little boy, Spencer. And his mink tabby sister (who is also about 50% bigger than him) is Ellie. They are Ragdoll hybrids and have the greatest temperaments.
Probably the biggest change, and I have no pictures to annotate it with, is that our homeschool journey seems to have rather abruptly ended.
The kid decided, after some discussions with us that she wanted to try school. To see if that would be a better fit and work more harmoniously for her, rather than being at home 1-2-1 with me all day everyday.
So far (week 3) she is comfortable and thriving. Really really happy. While I miss her lots it is hard to feel anything other than joy that she has made a choice that appears to be the right one for her.
Thank heavens for floofy, dozy, crazy and cute kittens to keep me busy!
We were lucky enough to have a lovely few weeks of summery weather before we headed back home into deepest winter. May seems to be one of the nicest months on the UK now and we got a good run of sunny days and trips to the beach.
Above is the beach at Port Erin, its such a gorgeous bay with a little harbour and a long flat gently sloping beach with no big drop off, Great for kids to paddle and for mums wo watch and not stress to hard.
The kid had a great few trips down here, but the last was the only time I took my camera with me. The pontoon was a huge hit with all the kids (most of the beaches have them for summer time) but on this trip the kid hopped off as soon as it floated. The previous day she had waded out and played with friends only to find that it wobbled more than expected and when she jumped off she discovered the water had gone from mid-chest to chin deep. She was more bothered by the wobbling than the change in depth but decided discretion was the better part of valour the next day!
There were a few jellyfish floating around to look at and the wonderful views and soft sand to make angels in and dig through to find ‘treasures’.
Spring has come very slowly to us here, or so it feels anyway. Seeing the spring flowers and feeling sun on our faces has been really welcome. We have been struggling to really get into a groove with travelling about (Canada was great fun, post on that to come) health issues and feeling a little out of sorts.
I’m hoping that the nicer weather and more sunshine will bring some lighter spirits and make finding our rhythm a little easier. We have an exciting Easter with family and lots of activities planned and I have grand plans for trying to revamp our diets in the next few weeks to try and help with some of the health issues that are still rumbling on.
I’ve started slow with lactose free and cutting out gluten. Next week I’m going to try and cut out 90% of dairy as well. Hubby has been caffeine free for a few weeks. I will have to flex my cooking muscles and come up with something different from the usual 6 meals I rotate each week!
These were taken (mostly by hubby) at a couple of the different walks we did last week. Water, and waterfalls is a bit of a theme at the moment as we are doing a lot of glen walks. Spring is slowly coming and we are seeing snowdrops peeking out and daffodils starting to bloom.
The kid is loving all the outdoor activities and hiking that we have been able to do. I am really enjoying being able to make sure that being outside, just following a path with no schedule or goal is a regular part of each week. I have noticed it has a positive impact on her school work and attitude when she’s had a dose of outdoor nature exploring and stress free time.
We are doing the Wild Explorers Club assignments which I signed up for a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if it would be a hit with the kid or not, but so far she’s loving the little videos every week and having a outdoor explorer ‘goal’ to work towards. This isn’t a sponsored post, just something that Ive found really great for instigating ‘get outdoors’ when its been cold, damp and grey!
We have done plenty of holidays with the kid and I would say that I’m pretty good at packing and working out what we need to keep her happy while we are away. I pack light as a rule, but packing for a longer trip had me a bit stumped.
When I was prepairing for the trip I was on the lookout for something portable, engaging and long lasting. Since the kid loves dolls (her 18inch dolls are one of her most prized posessons) I was drawn to Lottie Dolls as a fabulous small portable doll and as alternative to the increasingly popular (with the kid) but disliked by me, Barbie.
These dolls are small 18cm high, realistically proportioned (based on a 9year old girl) doll with a variety of outfits and themes. What I really adore is that they dont fall into conventional ‘fashion doll’ ‘princess doll’ stereotypes. There is Pirate Lottie, Muddy Puddles Lottie, Stargazer Lottie and more.
I got in touch with the fabuous team behind Lottie Dolls and they were generous enough to send the kid two Lotties and some outfits (Super Hero Lottie is still the kids firm favourite). These portable, pop-in-a-pocket sized dolls have been the best thing that we have with us. They go everywhere with the kid, offer hours of amusement and entertainment.
To be clear I am extremely grateful to Arklu for sponsoring the kid while we are travelling – but to anyone feeling like my opinions are rooted in ‘it was a freebie’ should be reassured that we have bought 2 more Lotties since then and another 4 outfits (and given they have a 30% offer at the moment there’s another Lottie in my shopping cart!)
The kid loves mix and matching outfits to different dolls and the freedom to play and experiment.
Other toys we really rate are are the Djeco Mini Games as they are fun and portable as well as always having a good range of crayons and paper. I like the Tiger Tribe sets as they are tidy and self contained.
Crocodile Creek Mini puzzles are ease to pop in a bag and a bonus is that they are double sided. Playmobil is also tough and portable and I love the foil bag sets as they have all the parts for a little storyline in one set. The kid loves the little blind bags from My Little Pony (gag) and also from the Trolls Movie that we saw just before heading on holiday.
Other than that we always bring books for reading herself and being read too. The kid is currently loving the Wrenly Series as she can read them herself and they are nice and illustrated with a fun fast story.
Not forgetting of course, the essential soft toys who can never be left behind. All in all that was a 50ltr kit bag bursting with books, toys and games! Not quite the light minimalist packing I’d been aiming for.
Excuse the instagram images used in this post, between travelling, christmas, miserable weather and getting chicken pox – me as an adult and the kid 2 weeks later. There’s not been much photography going on. Or adventuring. But there has been a lot of playing – thank heavens for great quality, portable toys.
A lovely trip to the local wildlife park with family. Lots of differnt animals from our usual wildlife park which was wonderful. Pictures curtasy of hubby.
Warm winter light and time to play at the playground. We have been pottering through this winter, a little homeschool in the mornings, lazy afternoons. We use a reading programme and I do a little maths and spelling with her (on a small and informal scale) but most of the rest is just letting the kid follow her heart and her interests. Currently that means spending a lot of time on her monkey bars, playing with her dolls and play dates with friends. She has a writing (and read aloud) group fortnightly which includes a extended playtime afterwards for all the children.
Lazy play where the kids run barefoot or gumbooted round gardens, bounce on trampolines. Carry the muddled heads of snowmen about or chalk up a concrete patio. It is interesting watching kids who are broadly unscheduled; play. There is a relaxation, a lack of urgency to what they do. Its a delight and a lesson.
She loves to bike and hike so we often find ourselves peddling to playgrounds or the woods. Or a afternoon in the hills if the weather is nice. She voraciously follows her own extra curricular interests, dancing and gymnastics four days a week at the moment. Rather more than I had hoped for but she was quite determined not to drop anything before the end of the year. The promise of a looming stage performance just to great.
A walk ona cool morning yielded some delicious and unexpected delights. Blackberries which we spectacularly missed last year. Well we hit the metaphorical and possibly literaly blackberry jackpot. So many. So few tarty ones.
Because lets be honest here. While natures bounty is all well and good, blackberrying is russion roulette for your taste buds. And it’s brutal if youre not spot on timing wise.
Well, we were spot on. The kid ate loads and loads. As many as I could pick her, and time after time she exclaimed “sweet and juicy mama”.
It was an over all lovely walk, even taking the blackberry awesomenss out of it. Cool morning air with a faint woodsmoke tang, a little mist on the far hills as we set out that burned off as the morning progressed and warmed up. Leaves beginning to turn. Elder berries heavy on the branches. Dry grasses spiling seeds. A greenness that, where we live, spells the ending of a hot, dry and fire laden summer.
Hello Autumn. Welcome. We have missed you.
Although its not something i’ve gone into detail about on the blog. There is no secret that the kid is learning from home at the moment and is likely to stay that way for the next year.
I’ve had a number of question about homeschooling, what we do with our time, materials we use and structure. Hopefully this post will act as a archive for me, where we started, and a little look at ‘how we are doing it’ for anyone who’s interested.
I try not to worry about where she falls within the standardised academic system and concentrate on how she is developing as a person and whether she’s happy and engaged.
Compared to standard schooling the kid is fortunate enough to only have to focus on ‘academics’ for approx 45 mins 3-4 times a week, currently. The rest of our days are spent living, being a kid, playing and her activities. Ballet, jazz, gymnastics and swimming are all structured classes she attends weekly. Rather more than our intended schedule. But she’s thriving on it and if necessary we will cut out any that are to much.
Since we feel that our homeschool journey at the moment leans towards unschooling we don’t use a over arching curriculum. I have researched a few and there are a couple that could possibly fit well once the kid is older. We have a lot of activity books for extending her own self driven interests as well as a focus on the world around us and the planet we live on.
Currently the only formal teaching aid (aside from cuisenaire rods for basic maths that we do) we use is the ‘All About Reading’ system. I really rate it. So much so that we have the next level already purchased and the accompanying spelling system as well. It might not be everyones cup of tea – and at times it has hilarious american idimyms. But the phonic structure, step by step plans and gradual but encouraging progression really does fit the kid.
We also love Osmo and there a a number of great iPad aps that we utilise. Originator make some great ones. Quick Math Jr is a favourite of the kid and i’m sure there are a number I’m forgetting. We are not a tv or computer free house but I do try and keep screen time to a bare minimum.
*disclaimer to add I’m am not a qualified educator – just a mum doing her thing, finding a path for myself and the kid*
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