Education

Parenting Moments to Love – whilst we lay low between travel adventures!

We’ve been very much home bodies after our exciting week away in San Francisco, with side trips to Santa Cruz and Monterey. It’s been nearly three weeks since we got back and we’ve been very self contained in the house we’re renting in Santa Barbara, till the end of August this year. The three girls are so content with their own projects that we rarely feel the need to get away from house and having a swimming pool in the backyard gives a wonderful release when indoors gets too much! I also think there’s an unconscious need to pace ourselves – as we tend to go ‘all out’ on exploring mode when we’re away; and we’ve recently had the news that we’ll be travelling to Europe in a week’s time!

Yes, we’re off to Copenhagen, in beautiful Denmark, for the first two weeks of July, followed by a week in North Wales, in the UK, visiting family and a week in Hampshire, south of London, in the UK, visiting more family. The first two weeks hubby will be working and I’ll be navigating the streets of Copenhagen with my three daughters (once we’ve got over the jet-lag!). Thankfully daylight hours extend to nearly midnight – so I’ll probably encourage the girls to lay low in the morning and party hard in the evening, once their Daddy has finished work!

All this travel is definitely exciting, but kind of exhausting with children too! So, when we’re not travelling, this is how we pass the time – and it’s pretty special too…

In between the crafting, imaginary play, rabbit chasing and Minecraft Skype sessions with friends, late into the night, there have been copious games in the swimming pool,  song writing, singing, reading and quieter moments to watch the birds nesting in the eaves of the house we’re staying. I’m going to miss this year of natural learning, without having to rush out the door to be somewhere at a particular time. It’s been wonderful to have all three girls at home, interacting, living, playing and being together.

I’ve enjoyed stretching out on the yoga mat, under the endless blue sky of southern California, and heading out the door for runs in the evening. The girls inspire me with their energy, often encouraging me to dive into the swimming pool with them, to try a new stretch or go for a run on the local running track. In the past few weeks they’ve been down the batting cage and to the climbing wall. There’s always something happening, but it’s all unscheduled, natural flowing action.

In preparation for our next trip away I have loaded up a Danish App on our gadgets, so we can use our manners in the native language whilst in Copenhagen! The girls are looking forward to the adventure and have been watching YouTube videos about Copenhagen and experimenting with the language. We’re staying in a lovely apartment, in central Copenhagen, near an area known as ‘Little Paris’ (good coffee and Danish pastries!).

Our travelling will soon take us back to New Zealand too, as after this trip we shall have a couple more months in California, USA, before heading back to our home in Wellington, New Zealand! It’s the birth place and home of our children. Our children, particularly our eldest daughter, very much miss their friends and their home. It will be good, in many ways, to get back to the community and good friends we know and love – but a part of me will miss the travelling! Thankfully, with my daughters getting older, I feel a few more independent trips of exploration on the horizon.

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Joining in with the lovely…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

The Photo Gallery | One Word – Metamorphosis

‘One Word’ is this week’s theme over on ‘The Photo Gallery‘ at Sticky Fingers blog and I’m going with ‘Metamorphosis’, after a magical visit to the recently opened ‘Butterflies Alive!’ exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

I visited on with my youngest daughter, age four. She entered the magical world of the exhibition with careful tread, mindful to watch for any butterflies on the ground. There was a mix of wonder and trepidation in her gaze. Numerous butterflies skimmed past us, seeking out nectar from the exotic offer of colourful flowers. She was a little concerned about one landing on her, and what she should do if that occurred, so I passed her my camera to distract her thoughts and she quickly became absorbed with taking photographs of them.

She proudly told me she knew what the word metamorphosis meant and enjoyed rolling all five syllables out on her tongue as she posed for photographs depicting the incredible transformation a caterpillar makes, changing into a butterfly.

All the while I couldn’t help but think what an incredible metamorphosis was happening in my own children, every moment, every day, every year.

Only four years ago she was a babe in arms, cooing to me as I pointed out nature’s wonders all around her. Now, here she was, striding along the pathways of the museum’s ‘backyard’, articulately describing to me all that her gaze fell upon.

Miss 4 taking me on a nature walk

❤ Paper towel art, birds, snails, ice-cream, wine-tasting & running!

A few things I’m loving from the past week…

❤ Colourful paper-towel art – dipped with fascination, in food coloured water; observed in awe, as the paper towel absorbed the colours; unravelled with surprise, as the pattern was revealed; put out to dry with love and a toy animal, to stop the breeze blowing away the artwork; and finally taped up on the kitchen windows to enjoy in the light.

Colourful paper dye artwork

❤ Loving the ‘Scoop‘ in Montecito, for its amazing ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, gelato, fresh waffle cones and welcome, heart of the community vibe, plus a good latte  (much appreciated from a coffee loving Mum, used to only the finest; from the coolest little capital in the world – Wellington, New Zealand; recently mentioned, by CNN, as one of the world’s great coffee cities!).

We went along on Sunday for the Scoop’s tenth Anniversary celebrations and spent a very entertaining hour watching a fun magician. The man of the house, Miss 4 and Miss 8,  volunteered to be the magician’s assistants… well, the man of the house not so much volunteered – but wasn’t going to let the team down! Ha!

Entertainment at The Scoop

 Loving Miss 4 and her nurturing of animals, from Sea Monkeys she has grown from eggs to ‘pet’ snails she has taken in from the garden.

Miss 4 and her pet snail

❤ Loving the beautiful birds that visit the Santa Barbara garden of the house we’re renting.

Santa Barbara garden visitor

We love to watch them drinking and bathing in the water fountain.

A beautiful bird in the garden

❤ Loving a few hours of wine tasting, with a yummy Mummy friend, exploring the ‘Funk Zone’ of Santa Barbara and sampling some delicious wines.

We found a wonderful place called ‘The Lark‘, which reminded us of Wellington’s cafe and restaurant scene, in that it had such originality in its decor and ambiance – not just a run of the mill place. Every piece of furniture had a story to tell. There were old bath tubs overflowing with wild flowers, antique cutlery, picked piece by piece, from a pre-loved home.

At The Lark

The bill even came in a novel way – tucked inside an old book (I’m sure the title of the book was chosen dependent on the client – I received, ‘A Fat Old Englishman’, my friend, ‘The Road Less Travelled’). Inside the pages, there were only a few – most had long gone, people had written their comments on their own experience at ‘The Lark’. A wonderfully novel and entertaining idea!

A bill with a difference at The Lark

❤ Loving that Miss 8 and 10 entertain themselves so well and are getting on the best they ever have since they were preschoolers (school, unfortunately, put a wedge in their relationship for a while). They are still loving rainbow band looming and Minecraft gaming. They are super duper with Miss 4 too, who I spend most of my day with. She shadows me in the home, helping with all the daily tasks and filling them creativity, song and her smiling face.

❤ Loving running (but will be glad, in a way, when the training for the half marathon is done!). At the moment I am focused on getting in the miles and building strength and speed for the half marathon on 10th May. I’m amazed at how the progress is coming along. The hours I’ve put in have been well spent. I’m feeling fitter than I have in years (which is a great way to feel when my fortieth Birthday is only a few sleeps away!). I feel guilty when I stop to take a photograph and enjoy the scenery – as I’m just so focused on the training! I shall enjoy resuming normal ‘running’ for pleasure and fitness and the pure fun of it after the race!!

Running for half marathon training

Last night I was supposed to run 9 miles, but on the way back I became mesmerised by the full moon coming up on the horizon and had to stop on the beach to savour it.

Full moon on Santa Barbara beach

Tonight, I shall make up for those lost miles, but I’m still proud of myself for running nearly 6 miles last night, in under 8 and a half minutes a mile. That’s a big improvement on what I found do-able five weeks ago!

Running

Hope you are finding lots to love wherever you are in the world too x

Oh, and Miss 4 requested I share her sea monkeys with the world 😉

Things I’m Loving: Orcas, Art, Running & Cake!

I’m joining in with the ‘Things I’m Loving’ linky over at my friend Meghan’s blog this week – celebrating those little things in life that shine. Sometimes it’s the things happening before my eyes, that fill my heart with love, like coffee, wine, or watching my family devour strawberries coated in chocolate…

strawberries and chocolate

Other times it’s a video someone has shared on social media; like this one of an Orca pod in the wild, where they should be, filmed in Karaka Bay, Wellington, within ‘touching distance’!

On the home front my three daughters have given me plenty of little moments to feel the love.

I love having them at home on this path of natural learning/unschooling, whilst we are living in the USA. Being a daily part of their lives and observing them live, play and learn, in their own unique way, feels like an absolute privilege.

Our youngest daughter is on an artistic learning curve at the moment (reminding me of when she was a baby – on sudden developmental surges in movement or language). She is always drawing, writing, asking questions about numbers and patterns, the world around her and how best to express it. Here’s some of her drawings and art from the week that have made the whole family smile.

Artwork by Miss 4

The older girls had a fun time decorating cakes last weekend, whilst our youngest painted the beautiful ‘magical, rainbow unicorn’ (as she describes it) in the photo above.

Cake decorators!

They were also spotted by a talent scout and invited to some Disney thing, where they were filmed reading a line and then put on the database – along with thousands (most probably) of other children – to be potentially called up at some future time… basically, it was one of those fun experiences that they enjoyed – regardless of whether or not it comes to anything – and they then had a fun time at ‘Six Flags’ with their Daddy afterwards.

Disney talent opp and Six flags fun with DadI have been continuing to enjoy getting ‘out there’ and running, in training for the half marathon I’m running on 10 May, to raise funds for a very poorly boy I know called Elijah. If you can spare a little please donate on Give a Little NZ – Running for Elijah. Many thanks x

RunningAnd the extra daylight hours that spring has brought to us are an absolute gift, which we celebrated this week by making a paper flower wreath decoration for the door (thanks to Paper-Source.com for the pre-cut flowers!).

spring flower decoration for the front doorHave a wonderful weekend, whether in the northern or southern hemisphere – or somewhere hot and humid on the equator!

Love, Sarah x

The Photo Gallery | Sport

It’s a special week of celebration on Sticky Fingers blog’s ‘The Photo Gallery’ this week.  Parenting bloggers in the UK put their heads together to create an event for Sport Relief this year which had the whole of the community buzzing – the Team Honk Relay. Bloggers up and down the land joined together to travel the length of the UK to raise money and awareness.

180 bloggers all over the UK who took on the baton (along with their family and friends), from Land’s End to John O Groats, running, cycling, swimming, roller skating, scooting, pushing buggies. They raised more than £30,000 (donations to ‘Team Honk’ are still open here).

So, to mark this momentous achievement, this week the Photo Gallery theme is: Sport.

My photograph is of my three daughters riding their bikes together (our youngest has just learned to ride a bike with stabilisers). I had one of those ‘Mamma heart swell moments’, seeing them riding together, and was thankful for my camera phone in my pocket to capture the moment.

Sisters riding their bikes together

It hasn’t been easy for them to leave their home in Wellington, New Zealand, and move to California, USA, for a questionable length of time. Our eldest, in particular, left behind a school she loved. They all left behind friends they loved and the home they’ve known since they were babes. On the flip side, they’ve bonded like never before. After a tried, and failed, attempt at school in the USA we made the decision to try home schooling and are now on a path of natural living and learning, where every day is a new day. The biggest value of this experience has been putting family first. Their relationship, as sisters, is more united than it ever was. As a family we are stronger than ever.

The aren’t involved in any sport teams or clubs as such, but they run, play, swim, cycle, dance, sing, and breath the same air together! They are learning in ways that money can’t buy.

Sport is more than beating a personal best, or another team or player, it’s about being active and embracing life, with enthusiasm and fairness. Seeing the three of my daughters together, playing tag or encouraging one another to try a new dive in the pool or a stunt on the monkey bars, is thoroughly heart warming. Love, love, love!

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Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

An active week in Santa Barbara – and yes, I am running a half marathon…

Between the game play (Minecraft), the crafting (Rainbow Looming) and all the preschool arts and crafts (baking ginger-bread men, sand play, painting, imaginary story telling and so on…) there’s been a lot of action in the house in California this week. My New Zealand born children have been energised with slightly cooler temperatures and rain (yes, rain!). We took a trip to the the local zoo in Santa Barbara (we signed up for annual membership, since we are here for a year) and spent a few hours enjoying some action, with a touch of animal education – but mostly ‘physical education’!)…

We also visited a fav park – Goleta Beach Park, for a kick around, as well as a park near the Zoo – where we played ball-tag, baseball, climbing and anything that stretched a limb!

Opposite Santa Barbara Zoo park

After my 8km run on Monday (in training for a half-marathon – my first – in May) I was on ‘cross fit’ day – so certainly got my exercise in – in a round about way! Why a half-marathon? Well, I’m turning forty in April, so it seemed the right thing to do – plus I’m doing it for a very good cause (yes, I need the motivation!). Also, the run is in ‘wine country’ – the ‘Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon’… aye, I’m no saint!

Monday's run

Oh and, whilst I’m at it, I did a decent run on Friday too (which was followed by reading Facebook updates of forty something friends in NZ completing a half-marathon in Wellington… which resulted in me signing up to do one – inspiration through Facebook – it’s real!).

Friday night's run

The run on Friday was swiftly followed by a vegetarian curry (thanks hubby and the wonderful curry house ‘Tamira Santa Barbara‘ that made it). Sunday, I should have gone for a run – but had friends around for a pirate shin dig (but that’s another post), in honour of our youngest lass having just turned four (didn’t seem real till we’d celebrated with some ‘Kiwi’ mates!). A pirate shin dig wouldn’t have seemed right without a few drinks to wash down the salty BBQ food.. ahem… (any excuse) so I indulged as any pirate would (given the chance) and set the world to rights (on the running front) on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were followed with lots of planking, squatting, yoga moves and gentle weights throughout the day – combined with multiple trips up, down, round, square and figure of eight; chasing dirty laundry, plates, children and chaos. And now, Wednesday night, I sit listening to the wonderful (and extremely rare) sound of rain thinking, ‘I really should have gone for a run today as I’m drinking far too much wine!’. Tonight, along with drinking wine, has been a fun one of putting out multiple rain catching containers with Miss 4 (she obviously recalls the drought in Wellington, NZ, of summer 2013, which I wrote about here and here, over at ‘Catching the Magic’), baking gingerbread men (she found the cookie cutters, whilst emptying a large plastic box – to use for rain collecting, and decided baking was the needed… and boy am I glad she did… as I sit here typing, wine fuelled, with the munchies!) and drinking rain water (well, wouldn’t you if it hadn’t rained more than 3 days in six months?!… never mind the water might be polluted!).

So, there you have it. A little post for the week to link up with the lovely active folk over at ‘Country Kids‘ who make the most of the weather in the wonderful UK, whatever it may be, and get out with their children to enjoy a bit of action x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

It’s the little moments of parenting that make it worthwhile

When you get out of the habit of writing about the little slices of life, that make it worth living, it’s hard to know where to start. Everything I write, which means so much to me, will be trivial to others; but I share it all the same, as I’ve learned that there’s a wonderful community ‘out there’ of parents that make sharing worthwhile.

Through sharing I’ve met great, interesting, inspiring people. I’ve felt empowered to make changes and I’ve felt that reassurance of ‘Thank goodness I am not the only one’. It’s not until you are a parent, or spend a lot of time with children, that you can understand the complexities of trying to be the right role model, all the time. I never knew patience like I do now, after ten years of parenting. I can add tolerance, empathy, sympathy, an ear that listens (and sometimes requires ear plugs) and much more; that I’m too tired to think of (a normal condition of parenting) to the list.

I’ve learned, above all else, to try and take stock, every day – or at least once a week, of the little things that have made me happy, grateful, proud or loved. It’s all too easy to get hung up on the negatives (it’s a constant battle in my mind not to!), but writing a blog over the years – ‘Catching the Magic‘, and now here, has helped me to keep a positive focus (or at least stop me from sinking completely underneath the trail of mess that is childhood creativity and learning in full flow!). I often look back on all we’ve done and am so thankful that I found the energy to record all those little slices of positivity.

I gave up paid work to spend every moment with my children. I have loved living in the moment with them and have totally immersed myself in being in their worlds – but perhaps too much (indicative of the sneaky white hairs). I feel more and more, as my youngest reaches four, that though I still am occupied so much with the lives of my children, I need to once again take back a little of me. I’ve been happy, for years, to give and give, but now I feel the emptiness of not taking time to refill myself with the essence of what makes me a person. As my eldest turned ten I felt the need, more than ever, to be once again more of the ‘old me’; an independent woman that spent time working, volunteering, undertaking hobbies to further enhance my physical, mental and spiritual health. I need this change for me, but also to set an example to my ten year old, whilst also being there and constant for my youngest child and middle daughter, that’s recently turned eight.

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Lately, I have really struggled to find any time to record the high moments of the week, or the desire, compulsion and motivation to do so. I nap when my youngest does, I sleep when my children sleep – they don’t hit the sack at night till around 10pm. I read a little, but that’s it. Writing, sadly, has left me. So, this post is the beginning of rectifying that. I doubt I’ll be as constant or diarise with such intensity. I don’t feel compelled to share the day to day moments as much as I used to – though it’s true that, on reflection, that’s what I enjoy looking back on. I don’t feel like spending hours putting photographs together in collages and tweaking them to edited perfection. But I do miss taking my camera and capturing a moment that might otherwise have missed.

Miss 10 rainbow looming

When I focus, with camera in hand, something else happens that changes my perception and depth of what my eyes naturally see. I feel immersed in a world of colour in a higher magnitude. I forget the washing, the piles of toys to sort and resort, the lunches to prepare and the dishes to wash. My perspective shifts when I practice being observant and my overall mental health is all the better for it.

Day to day happenings

This year, living away from our home in New Zealand, should – most would think – be all the more worth recording. But, with three children at home full time, and the pressure of making sure they are occupied, emotionally and physically well, happy and learning, is all consuming. The ‘big days out’ are photographed aplenty, but I don’t feel the need to write down every moment or blog about it – rather let the photographs speak for themselves. It’s the little moments, of every day, in the home, that are the ones I need to take stock of. The fairy gardens that our Miss 3 creates…

Alice's fairy garden

The progress she makes, with such delight, in her drawings…

Little moments of contented achievement in the home

It’s only now, with this momentary time of reflection (all be it with Miss 3 sat next to me, talking away, pulling my nose, giggling and asking if dinner is nearly ready) that I realise how much I need to make time to take stock (however interrupted it is). It is this time that makes me feel better about how I’m doing and how my children are faring. They have come to a new country for a year, leaving behind their beloved home, friends, hobbies and routines. They are all at home, after schools here in the USA seemed so different that thrusting them into a different system – just for a year – didn’t seem worth it. They are living and breathing life together, 24/7, and the way they have learned to get on and entertain themselves in a way that makes me so proud. The unity of our family feels stronger than ever (even if I feel a little frazzled around the edges at times!). We are doing okay.

Keep calm and carry on

It’s forcing myself to take stock that makes me feel more upbeat and helps me to pick up momentum in taking a positive outlook each week.

Miss 8 writing down her looming creations

I have felt so, so lost living in the USA, away from everything my children and I know. I have felt reflective of the past and full of questions about the future.

What I feel about my life and how I’d like to move forward is weighed upon, heavily, by the desires of my children and my husband. I must continue to think of my family and the best way forward for the whole, no matter how much my heart pines for something quite different in so many respects.

Taking stock of the little moments, that occur on any normal day, are what keep me sane and positive. I feel better for writing already. Time to ditch the laptop now and go ‘be in the moment’ with my family 🙂

Sarah x

A week in reflection: Moments to love & be thankful for.

It’s Friday. The weekend is nearly here, which means family time with the man of the house. It’s so much easier to keep all three of our children entertained when he’s at home. As much as I am enjoying having the girls all at home, I do have moments of feeling like I’m being held under ‘house arrest’ by my own children! There’s always someone that doesn’t want to go out, or a discussion about where we should go and why. Thankfully the house we are staying in is a very lovely environment to spend hours and hours, but I definitely need a couple of ‘outings’ to keep me sane – even if it’s down to the local village for a cup of coffee!

This week we had one outing which was particularly lovely, to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. We’ve been once before, enjoying the outdoor setting, water course, fort building and nature glen. This time around we discovered a ‘Planetarium’ and a new dinosaur discovery pit, where my junior palaeontologists got to work digging and brushing away the sand to reveal a skeleton. They enjoyed discussing what type of animal it would have been and whether it would have been a land, sea or air animal.

Dinosaur excavation at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

We were also opportune to visit on a day that an insect expert was sharing his knowledge. He had a ‘pet’ Vinegaroon to tell us about, otherwise known as a whipped tail scorpion (though it’s not a scorpion at all… See! I was paying attention!). He demonstrated the difference between six-legged insects and eight-legged arthropods and arachnids. He had some wonderful exhibits to show us and was so interesting to listen to.

After listening to him for a while, we made a speedy getaway as a big school group approached, thanking him for his time and feeling quite sorry for him as the crowd descended! We ducked into a fantastic display of more insects and bugs, trying to make our own spider web from a single piece of rope.

Learning at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Talking of rope, there’s been quite a lot of activity happening on the end of one too. Miss 7 has joined the Santa Barbara Rock Gym and, after her Dad took a belay course, she’s spending many an evening scaling the walls and hanging around. We all went along on Monday evening, with even young Miss 3 having a go – but she didn’t like wearing the climbing shoes or a harness, so had to be pulled back down the wall every time she climbed higher than my head!

The rock gym has a super friendly atmosphere and is definitely a great way to expel a little of Miss 7’s seemingly unstoppable energy (and there’s some good eye candy for me when the college lads are scaling the wall!). She went on Thursday evening as well, as a reward for working hard with her tutor that now visits twice a week; just for a couple of hours at a time.

Santa Barbara Rock Gym

I am so loving having a tutor in, to help with Miss 7’s learning. She’ll be eight by the end of this year and has only ever spent a total of two terms in formal school since turning five. It has been great for me to hear, from a professional teacher, that Miss 7 is achieving above average and not at all behind in any of her learning areas. She has a very ‘natural learning’ home environment, where I don’t so much ‘teach’ – rather I ‘facilitate’ her learning, with resources and encouragement. I see her reading, writing, applying mathematics in her every day life, as well as conversing confidently with people we meet in museums, cafes and so on, but do sometimes worry a little about ‘where we are heading’. Thankfully, I know a couple of inspirational people, through the blogging and homeschooling communities, that give me inspiration and faith to ‘trust in the process’. Nevertheless, I appreciate the input of a tutor.

The tutor brings in fresh ideas and energy, such as organising a fabulous practical experiment of ‘goo’ making on Halloween, tying in with the science of understanding the difference of a solid, a gas and a liquid, as well as sitting around the table doing formal learning.

Goo!

Our first ‘US’ Halloween was a very creative one and the evening was spent with lovely ‘Kiwi’ friends, enjoying ‘trick or treating’ in their friendly neighbourhood, where the home decorations were fantastic.

Trick of treating

Everywhere we went, in the weeks building up to Halloween, there were decorations in shop windows, cafes, restaurants – even the local Zoo!

Decorations

And of course the girls loved carving their own plump, orange, pumpkins – which are in very short supply in New Zealand in spring!

Pumpkins

The man of the house turned up to a very different office on Halloween too…

Halloween at work!

In the home this week my older daughters have loved designing and creating, both on paper with traditional pencils (which will probably be found only in a museum in another generation or so!) and on their computers. On paper they’ve been doing fashion design and looking at how fashion has changed over the last century. On their computers they’ve been designing virtual advent calendars on Minecraft.

Miss 3 has been doing lots of drawings and made a ‘turkey’ out of her hand and foot shapes. Her drawings always come with long explanations that I am asked to ‘write down, with arrows’!

Miss 3, 7 & 10, creating

She loves her drawings to be stuck into her ‘Dinosaur Book’ of treasures, that she likes us to read through every night before bed. She is quite taken with animals and dinosaurs at the moment, so we’ve been creating with play dough, as well as paints and drawing. She comes up with some interesting fictional species and tells me their behaviours, what they like to eat and the environments they live in.

Playdough creatures with Miss 3

Alongside her creativity Miss 3 has been showing great progress with recognising all the letters and sounds of the alphabet, numbers and doing simple addition with numbers under 10. She’s trying to write the letters of her name and creates letters with anything she has to hand – straws, play dough, skewers, in the sand or with water on the dry ground. When she’s not writing or drawing, she’s swimming and diving in the pool with great enthusiasm. She makes me smile with her wonderful imagination and living ‘in the moment’ – an art young children practice with ease.

Miss 3 picking me wild flowers and making me smile

So, that’s my week, the first since the clocks went back, throwing us into darkness from 5pm onwards. My body still thinks it is in New Zealand and expects spring sunshine and light till 9pm. I’m trying to compensate, with fairy lights and red wine… but feel totally confused and disorientated after over a decade of adapting to a southern hemisphere build up to the festive season. Thankfully Santa Barbara’s day time climate is beautiful, but I do miss getting out in the light of an evening, when the man of the house is home from work, for a run or some exercise by myself.

Ah well, candles and fairy lights are my friends for now (and my two bears, to make me feel close to my ‘two’ homes, where my heart sits, split in two, on opposite sides of the world).

Fairy lights and teddy bears

Miss 3 takes her Chumash Indian book and puts it into practice

I’ve been reading a lovely book with Miss 3 about the way the Chumash Indian people used to live in Santa Barbara ‘The Chumash Through a Child’s Eyes‘. The book compares their life to our modern day life in a lovely way that young children can comprehend. On one page is a Chumash Indian child helping his mother to cook, next to another page of a young boy helping his mother to cook in a modern day kitchen. The book shows how the pattern of our daily lives isn’t that different, but the way we do things has changed through tools and technology.

Whilst reading the page on cooking, my three year old decided to try and recreate the way the Chumash Indian cooked acorn flour.

Chumash Indian cooking acorn flour

First she looked for a stick, finding a skewer in the kitchen pantry. Then she looked for a stone to attach to the stick. We talked about how a stone could be attached to the stick. I suggested putting a marshmallow on the end of the stick, but Miss 3 rightly explained that a marshmallow is soft, not hard like a stone. She suggested they may have made a hole in the stone to put the stick in it – but we talked about how it would be hard to make a hole and perhaps they would have bound the rock to the stick (we used a hairband for this purpose).

Then we needed fire, to heat the rock.

Miss 3 brought me a candle and a lighter.

She then asked for a bowl. She gathered acorns from the garden and asked for water to mix the acorns in.

We acted out heating the rock and then placing it in the water to heat the water and help ‘cook’ the acorns – adding conventional flour to the mix.

This learning was led by Miss 3, with my role helping to facilitate, respond and observe. It was a joyful experience and an example of how natural learning frequently happens in the home.

 

Going with the flow of natural learning

There’s been some lovely moments in the home learning house here this week. We are meeting some lovely fellow home-schoolers in Santa Barbara, getting out and about, filling up pages of the diary and discovering lots of new learning opportunities.

To be honest, I don’t always know how any day will pan out. We are having more items in the diary to be on time for, but around that, we are going with the flow. Sunday morning we went out as a family to see the art and craft stalls along Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Boulevard and ended up spending a couple of hours hula-hooping!

weekend hulahooping

Around the book learning (have to admit there hasn’t been a great deal of traditional learning this past week) there are random ‘dress up’ and impromptu ‘acting’ scenes cropping up around the house!

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There are trips out to climb and run at local playgrounds…

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Visits to our local Zoo, where our eldest daughter’s fascination with snakes can flourish (she was quite the snake charmer this week!)…

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And time together to talk over lunch, read books about pirate adventures and the secrets of the ocean deep…

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Whilst observing the numerous crabs scuttling on the rocks around the marina…

crabs on the rocks

Marina Santa Barbara

In the home our youngest daughter loves to paint and create. She is the one most frequently at my side, whilst her older sisters play and learn together.

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It’s lovely to have time for leisurely, healthy breakfasts with my three daughters every morning, as well as living in a house with a swimming pool to splash in every day. The children use it so much and our youngest, Miss 3, is now swimming the full length of the pool.

Breakfasts at leisure

We are exploring new places all the time and the man of the house, is all hands on in the evening, for instance one ‘school night’ this week he came home to a very active Miss 7 pleading to ‘go out’ and do something ‘exciting’! She researched a few options on the Internet, checked opening times and how far away the places were, and came up with indoor rock climbing and ten-pin bowling!

rock climbing in santa barbara

So there’s a few snippets from our week! Plenty to love, plenty of indoor and outdoor moments. Not quite as much traditional learning as my traditionally schooled self would like, but learning is definitely happening in its own natural way. The best part of this experience is seeing my three daughters gel with each other so richly. This time they are sharing is invaluable and the bonds of friendship they are making now will last them their lifetimes.