Four months ago when we left our beach home to be closer to Brian and his work, we had no idea we had taken a new little someone with us. In mid-August, right in the middle of Daisy and Hannah’s birthdays, I discovered I was pregnant. And it’s been a wild ride ever since.
My pregnancy symptoms were much, much worse this time. Actually, the GP I saw to confirm the pregnancy laughed when I mentioned this and asked me, “What did you expect, everything gets worse the more pregnancies you have, the nausea, the exhaustion, the body aches and pains, everything!” So that was a bit of a wake-up call! Not that I expected it to be easy, I respect pregnancy. It’s a huge effort for a body to create and grow another human being and I know that it comes with some personal sacrifices. At that point though I decided to surrender into it and try not to complain knowing that this is just how this journey would go for me this time.
Ideally, I would have rested as much as possible and I still did that when we were home, however, we were determined to find a house to buy on the Sunshine Coast and that meant many 8 hour road-trips back and forth over the last 3 months to attend inspections. This definitely didn’t make any of the symptoms I was having easier! I’m now 20 weeks and still have days where the nausea feels a tad too overwhelming and I need to lie down until it passes.
The first trimester is always such an anxiety-fueled time for me after experiencing several miscarriages. I debated long and hard about whether to have a 12 week scan – as we don’t personally like the testing that this scan involves – but I did want the reassurance of seeing my baby growing and developing on the screen and in the end I was glad I did. It really helped me to bond and connect more with this little person, and minimise the worry just a little. Now that I can feel the baby moving it is much easier for me to relax.
We also debated about whether we should find out the sex once again. Many of our friends have chosen to have the surprise of finding out at birth, and we wondered if that was something we wanted to experience too. But then we remembered Blake and we decided that was surprise enough! We really have enjoyed finding out, especially in Daisy’s pregnancy where we could share it with Hannah and Blake and refer to her by name during the long 20 weeks that followed. We felt it helped all of us prepare for the baby that would join our family, and so this time we decided to do the same.
So, we are incredibly excited to share that I am pregnant with a baby GIRL and that another little sister and daughter will be joining our family in late April!!!
Hannah, Blake and Daisy came to the ultrasound with us and so we all found out together. The kids have been adamant that it’s been a ‘baby sister’ this whole time, so they were very happy to be proved right. I have to say that I strongly felt this baby was a boy and at our 13 week ultrasound the sonographer even mentioned that she would guess boy even though it was very early. Of course, we didn’t take it to heart, but since it backed up my feeling – and Brians as well – I was a bit surprised to hear the news that baby was a girl at this scan. He did check several times and said that although he can’t obviously give a 100% statement, he said could see the labia and the correct female markers so he didn’t hesitate at all. We are thrilled of course! I am completely delighted at the thought of having another daughter and we know and believe that no matter this baby’s sex, she is the right person to come into our family at this time. It’s just fun to find out half-way and a part of the pregnancy process that we really enjoy.
I hope to do more updates over the next few months. Nausea and the stress of the house has really not made sitting at a computer at all enjoyable, but I’m hoping for that to ease now. Next year will be full of new beginnings for our family and we are excited to start the journey! Thank you for always being such a support to our family, it’s lovely to know people care and are excited for us! 😀
The Birth Story of
Born Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Into water at 04:16am
Weighing 3.76kg and 50cm long
After a 5 hour labour
At the Birth Centre, RWBH
Before you were conceived I knew I would have an October baby. It was such a strong feeling of intuition and my intuition continued to serve me well during my pregnancy, labour and birth. I dreamed about those two pink lines appearing on the test and I was ecstatic to show the positive pregnancy test to your daddy later that week. Your dad, big sister Hannah and I, were more than ready to welcome you into our family.
As a parent, choosing to Unschool means choosing to be responsible for your child’s entire education right?
I don’t believe so. A child is an individual and therefore their education will be unique to them. Children are not a vessel to be filled with information and facts, rather they have their own ideas and thoughts that ideally need to be respected, trusted and encouraged and essentially this is the parents role in facilitating unschooling.
So what does that look like? Within an unschooling paradigm a parents role looks like :-
We reached another milestone together recently. After 20 months of breastfeeding, you have had your final breastfeed. This time, it’s incredibly bittersweet because you will probably be my last baby and the last little love that I ever have the pleasure of breastfeeding.
As soon as you were born, you easily latched on and breastfed within your first hour. Unlike your brother, after those first few early weeks, you rarely fell asleep breastfeeding. I was really surprised about that and felt that made things harder as I then had to walk/rock you to sleep after a feed!
You continued to breastfeed on demand until after your first birthday. I wondered whether you would breastfeed longer than Blake had (he weaned at 26 months), but I could see you were already beginning to slow down the feeds, and you were not demanding them as often as he did.
So it’s already the second month of 2015 and this is the first time I’ve managed a week in review! Of-course there’s been lots of living and learning happening since the year began but this is just a slice of the last 7 days in our world.
Life is busy here at the moment. I had a real moment of overwhelm on Monday, lots of tears and a bit of a breakdown. We’ve been doing some work on the house and it had all become too much. Having three small kids at home full time with no outside help makes work like that almost impossible, and yet we had to struggle through. I decided taking the kids out for some fresh air with friends in the afternoon would be helpful, so we jumped in the car and off we went.
I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was ridiculously windy, Blake cut his foot and then wet his pants, Daisy crawled into a puddle… which was all fine but then I had to get them back to the car to change them with the wind shutting my door on the back of my legs constantly while I tried to get Daisy changed in the front seat and Hannah running back to the beach to gather our shoes and waterbottles (what would I do without that child?!). It was all a mess. These photos are of the few minutes where it felt like I had made the right decision instead of the wrong one! But that’s life. Some bits are just hard.
We finally re-planted our vegetable garden this week. When we were watering, Hannah found a baby Christmas beetle which Hannah and Blake studied intensely for quite a while, remembering the Christmas beetle we discovered last month. We’ve all remembered to water the vegie patch every day too, so it’s been a lovely team effort.
I asked Hannah which plant she thought we would be able to harvest from first – we have tomatoes, capsicum, broccoli, lettuce and purple carrots (plus basil, mint and parsley). She chose the capsicum as the most likely to produce fruit [or vegetable!)] first, and it looks like she was right. Although tomato is coming in a nice second 🙂
Tuesday was spent at our city farm haven again with lots of book reading, playing in the sandpit and imaginative play with friends.
There was also something else. A dead gecko. The interesting part about this story is that the children found this gecko in the cubby house, not moving and easily captured. They placed it in an empty palm frond and brought it over to us to ask if the lizard was alive or dead. We all discussed what signs we would look for in a dead animal but Bob also pointed out that a defense mechanism most animals have is to play dead in order not to get eaten. Someone also suggested that it may be really scared and therefore not physically able to move away. With all this information the children were left with a choice about what to do next.
They began talking with each other and realised that if the gecko was in fact not dead, then it would need to have the opportunity to continue on its way. Bob suggested they put it near the cubby and leave it for a while to see what happened. We all concluded that if it was still there after about half an hour then it must be dead.
More play together ensued and then finally someone remembered the gecko. They ran off to retrieve it and sadly it was still there. A burial was discussed, the right tools to dig the hole found and a perfect spot under the big tree was chosen. We left them to it and when I walked over after about 10 minutes to take a photo I heard them discussing the lizards anatomy, how he has cold blood and how his tail might have been broken. One of the children wondered if she could do an operation to save it’s tail before he was buried, so that occurred before the gecko was finally laid to rest.
It was a fascinating process to witness and the children took it all in their stride with a matter-of-fact attitude. They were all somber about the fact that the lizard was not alive, although he obviously wasn’t a beloved pet so I assume this was why they were able to be more objective. On the way home Hannah brought up the topic of death and we chatted about it once again. Death has been an ongoing topic of interesting conversation here for over a year now. I might write about our approach in discussing death in more detail in another post if there is interest.
That night at my parents house, we had an unexpected blackout. Blake asked if we could have a campfire and although that obviously wasn’t possible, we were able to compromise with candles, mini-marshmallows and toothpicks = excellent blackout fun!
On Wednesday and Thursday my sister graciously came over to help with the kids while I continued working on the house. I love being a full-time stay at home mama, but it IS hard work. It is also not realistic, in that humans haven’t evolved to live so individually. Having my sister around during the day, reminds me how much support and help really is necessary in order to truly enjoy this process of raising children. We all had a lot of fun together, building block cities, befriending a neighbourhood cat, chatting about the full moon and going crystal shopping. And in-between all that I even managed to get some work done. Total win-win.
Friday was spent hanging out at the park with more unschooling friends and I loved watching Hannah and Blake climb the trees instead of playing on the playground. I love knowing that they know they have the freedom to challenge themselves in this natural way.
After spending most of Saturday at Southbank (a family-friendly precinct in our city) watching the buskers perform and Hannah and Blake spending their money at the markets, I wasn’t surprised that money was a hot topic on the way home. The children both had just over $5 in their bags and I reminded them that if they chose something that cost $5 they would have no more money but would have that item instead.
Hannah asked how we earned money and what she would have to do to make some money. I suggested a few different ideas such as asking her grandparents if she could work on their garden or clean their cars to earn some more dollars. Almost immediately she asked if she could clean our car and we suggested that if they both cleaned all their toys out of the car they could have $1 each. After doing that Hannah was keen to make more so she asked if she could vacuum the car out and Blake was eager to help so they ended up with $2 each.
Hannah is already planning how she can earn more. This money-making scenario has played out a few different ways in the last couple of years with the kids baking cupcakes to sell at events and garage sales to earn money previously. It will be interesting to see whether this is another short-term interest in money and business or whether now that Hannah is older, it will escalate to something bigger.
We ended our week by inviting Racheous – Lovable Learning, Memoiors of a Childhood, Happiness is Here and their delightful families over for a swim in the pool and a barbecue lunch. Of-course, there had to be a bit of a tinker with the Spielgaben set as well! I don’t think we could have fit more fun into one day! It was seriously adorable – albeit busy with 10 children under the age of 6 – watching them all enjoy their time together. Us adults had a pretty good time too!
If you like what you see here please get in touch, I love supporting other families to make this unschooling lifestyle your reality and I offer a very personalised mentoring package to guide you through the process. Just email me via firstname.lastname@example.org
Our week started off with beautiful weather and a fun outing. We were invited by a friend to a ‘mama haircut day’ where all us mums were going to take turns getting our haircut while the others supervised the children and prepared lunch. These friends have a very cool backyard with a kid-sized zipline between trees, a flourishing veggie patch and a gorgeous group of chooks. Although we’ve never had chickens as pets, several friends of ours do and one friend in particular has hens that are very friendly and tame and Hannah has enjoyed cuddling them in the past. So after collecting the eggs with her friends, Hannah assumed that these chooks were just as friendly as the ones she is used to, and proceeded to try to pick them up and give them a gentle hug. I call her my “chicken whisperer” as she honestly has the touch!
Two out of the four chooks were happy to be patted, held and talked to by her even though the family who owns them doesn’t generally engage with them like that. Hannah was truly in love and in her element. She explained to the smaller kids how to pick up and hold the hens gently and made sure they were all safe and comfortable. Us mamas kept an eye on the chickens and when they started getting a bit hot and tired we asked the kids to put them back in their coop which they happily did.
When it was my turn to get a haircut, Hannah asked if she could get ‘just a little’ haircut first. We worked out that she wanted a trim and after a chat with the hairdresser about her preferences, she sat down for her cut. I was really surprised she chose to do that as she hadn’t said anything beforehand, but Blake had had a haircut on the weekend so maybe she had been considering it already. I love when I see that my children are comfortable making choices like this about their bodies of their own accord. I think that’s a really important lesson to learn.
Later I spied some sweet moments between siblings in the hammock.
On Tuesday – which as I mentioned last week is generally the biggest day in our week – we spend the morning at the city farm as usual.
Daisy enjoyed having her feet painted with clay by Hannah and a friend and later used the paintbrush to give it a go on her own.
As I was talking to Bob who volunteers at the farm and is an amazing guide and additonal influence with the children, I noticed something moving in the grass. At first I thought it was a snake but then I saw the little legs and the striking blue tongue.
It was a Blue Tongue Lizard! Of-course we kept out of the way but it walked around the perimiter of the childrens area for about 10 minutes enabaling us to get a great look. I haven’t seen one in the wild since I was a child and Bob mentioned he hadn’t seen one at the farm before either so we very very lucky to see one! We talked a little about what the lizard might eat, where it might be going and wondered why it has a blue tongue. Such a gentle and interesting creature. I tried hard to take a photo of it with the blue tongue sticking out but it was near impossible!
That afternoon we headed to my parents house as usual. Grandpa was setting up the train that circles the Christmas tree so Hannah and Blake asked to help out. They needed to work out how to fit the batteries to make the motor work by matching the + and – and then there was some trouble with the track layout so they needed to fix that as well. It was interesting watching them try to solve the problems and develop solutions and they were so proud of themselves once they figured it out.
My sister then pulled out the craft box for Hannah and Blake and using the materials in the box and their imagination, they made these gorgeous snowmen. This was fabulous as I hadn’t added a Christmas craft to their advent calendar that day! I found some letter cards in the craft box and picked out the ones for Snowman. I then brought them out all mixed up and then Hannah and I sounded out the letter sounds to make the word together.
Next, Hannah began work on a special painting. About a month ago at a friends place, Hannah drew a picture of a mango tree and I had an idea. Brian’s Nanna (the children’s great-grandmother) who we will be visiting for Christmas, has a mango tree in the backyard that has been the centrepiece of many family memories and his Granddads ashes are scattered around the base. I asked Hannah if she would like to do a painting of the mango tree, based on her drawing, to gift to Nanna for Christmas and she agreed. I later suggested she ask for my sisters guidance with the project as she is an artist and works with canvas and acrylic paints frequently. My sister agreed and Hannah learned a few new skills about painting while also creating a memory that we hope Nanna will love and treasure.
That night we had to stay at my parents house because I had locked my keys in our house that morning. Brian was away for the week for work and he has the spare set! Lucky I always keep some spare clothes for the kids at my parents house and I am the same size as my sister!!! Hannah and Blake thought it was great of-course and reveled in the extra treats and staying up late.
On Wednesday we headed to a friends house for a playdate where there was a lot of glitter crafts for the kids and much discussion and play about their mutual love of the movie Frozen! We also received some stunningly thoughtful Christmas gifts from our friends and were sad we couldn’t give ours to them as they were locked safely in our house!
In the afternoon Hannah, Blake and Daisy all helped my parents in the garden with varying degrees of actual helpfullness by Daisy darling…
Hannah was then inspired to do a quick painting of Grandmas garden.
And you can see in the background of the above photo a couple of pine-cones painted with yellow paint which I started doing while we chatted and then Hannah chose to make her own and decorate it with petals from the garden.
We decided to do some op-shopping on Thursday morning with my sister (so handy now that she is finished school and has plenty of time to hang out with me and my kids!) and managed to get to a few before things started to fall apart.
Blake always finds it quite hard when Brian is away and his emotions were hitting their peak. We cut the op-shopping short and then Brian called me to tell me he had made it back home a little earlier than planned which was music to my sore, tired, worn out ears!
Brian and I also celebrated our 12 year anniversary since we became a couple on Thursday and he bought me these gorgeous blooms! I love yellow, and I feel like it’s a bit of a theme colour this week!
It was late night shopping and I really wanted to get our Wishing Tree gifts organised so we all went to the shops together to choose a few gifts. This was a complete disaster as everyone was in meltdown mode, and in hindsight wasn’t the wisest choice to make. I took time that night to really re-centre myself and remind myself of the type of parent I wanted to be, rather than the one I had been at times during this stressful week.
So on Friday we chilled out at home and I made sure to tune in, listen up and re-connect. There was a lot of movie watching together and quiet play on the floor.
When Daddy came home from work we all walked to the park. We took the time to notice our neighbours beautiful Frangipani tree flowering and I mentioned to Hannah and Blake that like the Poinciana that we saw last week, this tree also blooms in December and is a nice way to recognise Christmas is on the way. Last year Hannah was quite distressed to realise that we would never have snow to enjoy during Christmas time, so I researched what seasonal guideposts there were in this state of long summers and little variation from month to month. Frangipanis were just one of the flowers I found that flowered this time of year and as we collectively love trees, this was a lovely way to introduce the local changes we’ll see every December.
At the park, Blake decided to re-attempt swinging himself on a swing and was filled with pride when he was able to coordinate it. You can see he is concentrating especially hard in this photo!
As I was taking photos of Blake, I noticed next to me that Daisy had decided to do some experimenting and taste-testing.
On the walk back home we collected some fallen gum-nuts to use for a Christmas craft activity I have planned for next week.
We noticed another storm rolling in over the rooftops of neighbours houses.
On Saturday it was time to celebrate St Nicholas Day! This is a lovely tradition my family did all through my childhood as we are European. We totally forgot about asking the children to put their boots out the night before but luckily I had put a few little treasures away earlier last week, that I quickly wrapped up for Hannah, Blake and Daisy.
The kids were so excited to receive these little gifts and after they had had a little play we took the time to talk about what the story of St Nicholas means to us and how we admire and choose to emulate his kind and generous spirit every Christmas by giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. So we jumped into the car to put our lovely gifts under the Kmart Wishing Tree.
Blake felt a little sad that he couldn’t give his gift to his chosen child personally as he didn’t quite understand this year that it was almost an anonymous process. He wrote his name on the card and we reminded him that the child who receives his gift at Christmas would surely send a lot of love to Blake in his heart.
Back at home Daisy and Blake had a long nap, so Brian and Hannah indulged in some Kinetic Sand play.
It’s Sunday now, we have spent the morning hanging out at home doing some housework and now we’re off to our nephews birthday party. I will add the photos of that to next weeks post!
Thank you for joining me here once again and sharing in our week! If you have any questions or thoughts feel free to leave them in the comments, I love to hear from you! Our unschooling journey is ours – it’s a representation of how we live and therefore, how we learn. Our children have the freedom to question, wonder, experiment, play, create and explore at will. The photos and words in these weekly excerpts are just an overview and based on the memory I have of the weeks events. There will have been more learning than I could possibly cover here happening in the minds of each of my children every day. And there is a lot of ‘real life’ that happens in our weeks too – lots of negotiation, compromise, frustration and tantrums – because all of that is a part of living and learning, together.
During my pregnancy with Blake I became increasingly desperate for a community of like-minded families to surround ours in support and friendship. I tried a few different groups and then finally struck gold when Blake was a few months old. These mamas were exactly what I was looking for and our connections have meant so much to me and my family over the last 4 years.
Something we began doing as a group a couple of years ago was camping! Brian and I had already been camping with the kids a few times before and this was exactly how we enjoyed our holidays, so to do it with our friends was a bonus.
We began camping two to three times a year and increasingly our locations turned bush, which lead to Brian and I really falling in love with basic, bush camping. This time we went to a farm-stay which has more amenities than we normally have, but with three small kids, it’s always welcomed!
We had such a great time. We drove down interstate to the camping location the day before everyone else did, and the kids lit a small campfire and toasted a few marshmallows to celebrate.
The site we had booked as a group was quite sunny, so the children were able to witness a lot of discussion and negotiation as we all worked out how to set up our ‘living areas’ (lots of gazebos pushed together to create our kitchen, eating and lounging zones).
The kids were always around, helping in their own little ways 😉
The dam was incredible and we spent quite a bit of time there. Hannah loved the kayaks and enjoyed paddling them with or without me or Brian joining her. Blake was slightly more hesitant, but with the dam water being so murky I couldn’t really blame him. It was so calming just being there among the water-lillies and the dragonflies. I love being in new environments, and for the children it always sparks their creativity and imaginations.
One of the plans us mamas had while camping as a group, was to indulge in some yoga, chanting and meditation together. Many of us have been on a journey of self-discovery and self-love this year, and yoga and meditation were some activities that quite a few of us had enjoyed before, so we wanted to share that as a group. It was beautiful to connect in this way, whilst also nourishing ourselves as people first.
The children were free to join in as they pleased and most of the older kids got right into it, especially with some of the more up-beat chanting music that we had available. A friend and I had been to a Kundalini yoga retreat a month prior and most of that music is very uplifting and positive. Even Daisy tried out a few yoga poses! On the last day, all our partners sat and supported us by watching us and the kids, and it was lovely to have their encouraging presence around us while we took time to care for ourselves. So beautifully nourishing and revitalising.
Of-course being a farmstay, there were quite a few animals to feed and pat and cuddle so the kids spent many hours enjoying those experiences. Hannah and Blake predictably adored the bunnies and were devastated that we couldn’t take a couple home (they’re considered a pest in our state).
We even discovered a Mulberry tree on the property and the kids were excited to climb the trees and taste as many Mulberry’s as they liked.
Apart from the animals, the campfire every night was a sacred, much-anticipated event for the kids and the adults alike. The first camping trip we went on where we were able to light a big campfire, we set up a rope around the perimeter and explained to the children to stay on the outside of it. So many people had expressed their surprise at doing a big fire with small children around, but like with everything a lot of trust and a little adult supervision means the children have always been free to enjoy it as the amazing experience that it is.
Five days, eleven families, and over twenty children under the age of 6 enjoying nature, time together, exploring and learning… well, I call that a successful holiday!!!
You’re so excited to be another year older, bigger and stronger and able to do more things. You kept telling us of the things you will do once you turn 4 – like click in your own seat-belt which you’ve refused to do because you were “only 3” 😉 – so I’m sure this birthday is an incredibly important milestone in your life. We’re so happy to share it with you Blake. You’re such a special child and you truly add to our family in the most amazing way.
You’re still our most affectionate child. You often murmur, “Babies are so lovely.” as you stroke Daisy’s little cheeks. It’s been the most adorable relationship to watch grow. As a parent the best thing is when your children really, really love each other, so watching you love your sisters is so beautiful for me to see. I hope you always keep that bond strong. They’ll both be there for you through anything and everything.
Your physicality hit a new high since you turned three. You began using pencils as shotguns (the most pointy thing we have in our home!) just out of the blue! Hannah found it quite disconcerting so I had a flashbulb of an idea for you to aim your fierceness at the tree downstairs and you loved it. The tree and you connected in a way that only a boy and a tree can ;).
There have been some extremely challenging moments as well. Many, many boundaries were pushed and tested and still are. And because of your physicality when upset, my patience and limits were often pushed too far. It’s something we’re working on together and I know this stage has it’s process and we just need to go through it.
You also rarely stop moving. One of our favourite things to do lately is tell each other stories and your whole body moves when it’s your turn! Your gestures, your dramatic jumps in the air and your crouching down and whispering during the suspenseful moments almost send me into hysterics. It’s never dull with you around Blake!
This year, we had a party planned for you, but we noticed during Hannah and Daisy’s parties that you became quite withdrawn and clingy and then fell asleep half-way through. We were concerned that your party would have the same effect so we had a chat with you and offered you the options – to have a party with family and friends as planned or to just have immediate family over and a cake and without hesitation you chose the latter. So with only weeks to go we canceled your party and just had family over to celebrate you turning 4!
Your favourite things at the moment are playing with your cars, watching 4×4 videos on YouTube, playing imaginative games with your friends, asking me what all the words on all the signage we see says, being a knight, and going on adventures.
We love you Blake, you’re an amazing little boy and we know you have so much to share with us. I can’t wait to get to know you even better in this 4th year of yours. I hope it’s your best one yet!!!
Hannah began planning her 6th birthday party soon after her 5th had finished. She decided she wanted a unicorn/mermaid/fairy/castle themed party and that she wanted to colour her hair pink and purple. So began my year long search to make her wishes a reality!
We discovered ‘hair chalk’ which didn’t end up being as bright as she had imagined, but she was impressed with it. It ended up washing out after a fun swim in the pool soon after the party started anyway!
And then I had to figure out how to incorporate her chosen theme into one birthday cake!
It all came together in the end and it was a lovely simple party. All her favourite things with all her favourite people means Hannah was a very happy girl. She’s such a gracious child and I always love seeing how much she enjoys the planning and celebrating of parties.