Photographic Memories

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2015 In Review // Our Unschooling Journey

2015 is coming to an end so this post is a review of what our unschooling journey looked like in the past 12 months.

Overall, it’s been a challenging year for our family. Unschooling has literally helped hold us together. I cannot imagine how much more difficult doing some of the things we’ve had to do this year would have been if school was an added factor in our lives. Instead, we had the freedom to make choices where the JOY of our family was our only consideration. We grew, we learned and we certainly journeyed. Here is a snapshot of the year that was –
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A Love Letter to a Home

Dearest Home,

It’s a new moon today. Do you know what that means? New beginnings.

It’s time for us to part ways, to say our goodbyes and move on to new adventures.

It’s sad. And I’m trying not to cry writing this to you. At the same time though, I am, and forever will be, grateful to you and everything that living inside your walls has meant to our family. It’s completely bittersweet.

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I remember when we first met, do you?

It was 1995 and my parents were looking for a new house – they were ready to buy their first home in Australia. You were just a shell of a home, your carpets weren’t laid and your potential was untapped. My parents chose the house across the road instead. I visited you a few times over the coming years, playing with the children who eventually moved in.

Then one day, the most amazing thing happened. I watched from my house as a new family arrived with their trailer full of boxes and carried them through your door and I knew intuitively something special was about to begin. We watched each other for weeks, and finally, Brian and I spoke to each other for the first time in the middle of this street that was at once not his, nor mine, but ours.

Our first trembling kiss occurred in your doorway, not knowing what the future and that doorway had in store. Time marched on and eventually Brian and I decided to marry at the same time as his parents decided to sell you and move closer to Brian’s aging grandparents.  We took the opportunity and grabbed you with both hands.

That was 2007. Since then we’ve stripped you bare, removed your carpet and painted your walls, we’ve reassembled your kitchen and bathroom and landscaped your gardens. It has been a labour of love. There is not one part of you – inside our outside – that we didn’t touch and re-invent. We’ve rented you out in order to move closer to work and the city and we’ve moved back in, over and again, many times. You were ours, and owning you gave us the freedom to enjoy you however we chose.

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You’ve seen us at our happiest – enjoying endless birthday celebrations, days of laughter in the pool, and the smallest moments of simple household delight. You’ve reveled in the Friday night pizza and movie nights, and entertaining friends and family for dinner. You’ve delighted in the pitter-patter of little feet on your floors and photos of smiling faces have graced your walls.

But you’ve also seen us at our most raw, most vulnerable and most hurt. You’ve listened to our cries of despair as we lost our first pregnancy and later the months of difficulty as we adjusted to having two small children under one roof. You’ve witnessed our most passionate arguments and our most passionate love. Moments that became memories all because you were here to hold the space for us, and our evolution.

In the time that we lived away from you, we decided on new dreams for our family and you gave us your final gift… in letting you go, we are able to grab hold of our new journey of adventure. And that’s where we are today, dear home. Your new owners will move in, in a few days and you will be ours no longer. The physical presence that has held us on this street for over 20 years will officially be over, but the memories will always remain.

I couldn’t stop the tears dear home, you’ve been so good to us. We are so grateful for the opportunity to grow within your walls and you have embraced us with an acceptance I know will be hard to replace.

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I hope your new beginning is wonderful. I hope you are looked after the way you deserve to be. I hope your new family enjoys long lunches on the patio watching the children splashing in the pool like we did on so many occasions. I hope your floors once again know the pitter-patter of little feet and that you witness great love and great moments. We wish you only the best.

Thank you.

Good bye.

Here’s to NEW adventures.

xx

Dearest Blake – Happy 4th Birthday!

To my dearest Blake,

Oh Darling boy! You’re four!!!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!!!

Love, Mama xx

Hannah’s 6th Birthday Party!

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!

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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.

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Dearest Hannah – Happy 6th Birthday!

To my dearest, darling Hannah,

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The cold days of Winter have come to an end and with them so has your birthday. My winter blossom, already 6 and growing up magically before my eyes, blooming into a young girl with her own ideas, thoughts, questions and wonderings. You are creating your own story Hannah darling, and I am so grateful to be on this path with you. Even though you rarely reach for my hand anymore, I hope you always know I am here for you today, and every day, forever.

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You’ve matured so much this year. There have been many changes and adjustments to make, from welcoming a new sibling, to moving house and you have accepted it all with an understanding and wisdom far beyond your years. You have been helpful, considerate, patient, kind, loving and thoughtful when I needed you most. Being the eldest is not the easiest of roles Hannah – believe me! – but just as I know you chose your birth order, I know that you have the ability to make the most of this time, even when it is challenging. So thank you, for being my most devoted assistant and responsible leader of the pack with Blake and Daisy. I hope in the future, these character traits will serve you abundantly.

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This year, we walked the talk and committed to unschooling. We went against the grain – as we’re prone to do – and you have flourished. Watching you learning every day, delighting in all the wonders of life, humbles me. Your dedication to yourself, to your own learning adventure is inspiring and seeing you confidently attempt and succeed in all manner of tasks is pure joy to your Daddy and I. We love seeing you so comfortable and free. Free to be yourself, to make choices, to take risks, and to begin to navigate this journey of life.

I thought I’d add a list of things you’ve been interested in and/or learned to do this past year for you to look back on. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, you do this and much more every day but these stood out –
learning to blow up a balloon; teaching yourself to hula-hoop;  horse-riding; taking a term of gymnastics classes; learning about countries and flags and general geography; teaching yourself to tie knots; choosing to have your ears pierced; so many home science and art projects; learning circus skills; attempting crochet; a deep interest in evolutionary theory, what happens when people die and the wonders of the universe; gardening; your ever growing interest in the human body; you lost your first tooth; your passion for writing has only increased and your mathematical skills are growing ever sharper; you participated in a television commercial and you spent more time immersed in nature than ever before.  You’ve covered this and more and wow, we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.

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Your star shines bright Hannah. It’s obvious to me that your purpose here is beyond anything I could have imagined, guiding us to think about our lives differently than what we did before. You inspire me with your passionate nature, your willingness to jump in and give everything a go and even though I try to think of words that perfectly describe who you are, I just can’t. You can’t be put into a box or a category, you’re above that. My whole world changed during my pregnancy with you and the last 6 years have spun me 180 degrees. Life is different for us because of you and we wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re truly a beautiful soul and I can’t wait to get to know you even better in the coming year, and hear more of your thoughts on this wonderful world we live in.

Hannah. I love you. I hope your 6th year is just as amazing as you.

Love Always,
Mama xx

Daisy’s 1st Birthday Yellow Polka-Dot Party!

Yes, it’s a touch cliche but I just HAD to theme Daisy’s party around her name! With sunshine yellow decorations, polka-dots everywhere and daisies in vases, our home was set to celebrate our little blossom’s 1st birthday. It was a lovely party and while Daisy seemed a bit overwhelmed to start with, she loved when everyone was singing her Happy Birthday and began clapping 🙂 She sneaked a piece of cake and we ended up doing an impromptu cake-smash as she was so excited to eat it!All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved

The next day was Daisy’s actual birthday and as it was coincidentally a public holiday in our area, Brian had the day off. We started the day with a little photo-shoot, went out for a yummy lunch and then for a play at the park at our favourite place. Daisy enjoyed her first time on the slide and Hannah took a few lovely photos of Brian, Daisy and I. We reminisced about her birth day last year and talked about future plans with our family of five. So many blessings. So very grateful.

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At One
– Daisy has 8 teeth –
– She is crawling and pulling up but she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to learn to walk –
– She loves food and eats anything and everything –
– She is clapping, waving, high-fiving, pointing and blowing kisses –
– Her favourite things to do are find pieces of paper or tissue on the floor and scrunch them into her mouth before anyone catches her and playing peek-a-boo with Hannah and Blake –
– She is happily a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, ergo-snuggling, stick-munching, beach-exploring, car-tripping, sibling-loving, cheeky-giggling little baby –
– and we love her to pieces! –

Happy 1st Birthday Daisy Emmeline!

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Dearest Daisy – Happy 1st Birthday!

To my dearest Daisy Emmeline,

My little love. My sunshiney Daisy Baby. You’re 1 year old!!

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So here we are – the official end of your baby days. You’re 1 year old now sweet girl. I could probably write that last sentence a million times over and yet I would still not believe it. I am truly in denial that the first year of your life has flown by in the blink of an eye.

You have added so much sunshine into our home since you speedily entered the world last August. Watching your birth video again reminds me what a special moment it was finally holding you in my arms after dreaming of you for so long. Your pregnancy was my hardest, the nausea was the strongest and the exhaustion was overwhelming. I honestly don’t know how I made it through those early days and weeks.

I remember lying there during your 20 week morphology scan being so excited to hear it confirmed that it was you who was coming to meet us, our little Daisy who was so eager to let us know your presence long before I ever saw those two lines on the pregnancy test. My intuition – which had always been raised during my pregnancies – was incredibly strong with you. I felt so connected to you, to our dance of birth and the early months of your life. It just seemed like perfection.

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You were my sleepiest newborn, my first baby who didn’t prefer to feed to sleep and definitely the one who used up the most spew rags! I loved watching you fall asleep in my arms after a breastfeed as it didn’t happen nearly as often as I would like. I mostly walked you to sleep in those early days, watching our dance in the wardrobe mirror as your eyes grew sleepier and heavier. You slept in your gorgeous moses basket for the first few months and then moved beside me to the side-carred cot. I love co-sleeping with you. Waking up to your smile is the best start to my days. I miss those heady newborn days, they never seem long enough.

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This is one of my favourite stages, this happy, cheeky, fun-filled age where we really get a good glimpse of your personality. So far, you just love being around people, and lucky for you you have two adoring older siblings to sing you songs and teach you rhymes and cuddle you until you are all cuddled out! They are so natural with you, and amazingly they are so tolerant of your needs, and they appreciate your babyness. Hannah and Blake loved you while you were still growing in my belly but they couldn’t get enough of you once you were born, and they still can’t. I am so proud of them and I am sure your sibling relationship will continue to grow from strength to strength through the years.  Watching you with them, watching the 3 of you smile, giggle, cuddle, care for and think of each other has been amazing. Our home is full of the sound of children, of laughter and little feet and it is everything I never knew I wanted until each of you came into my life.

I couldn’t have wanted more during this first year of your life. I know there is so much fun and love to come so it is bittersweet to say Happy Birthday to you today, but I will, because this is a celebration of you my darling, and you deserve it. Thank you for coming into my life and choosing me to be your mama. I appreciate it more than you know. You were just a beautiful thought in my mind for such a long time and now you’ve already had your first circle around the sun. Keep shining bright Daisy darling, we love you.

Love Mama xx

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[We visited one of our favourite places this afternoon and picked some beautiful yellow Wattle there to celebrate your birthday. I was so surprised and happy to see a couple of ladybirds on the blossoms. It reminded me of the moment where I saw the ladybird long before I was even pregnant with you and I knew this was another sweet moment of divine connection between you and I Daisy. I love you, you are sweetness personified.]

 

 

Naming Daisy

Daisy was never in my fantasy childrens names list. I would have been really surprised if someone had told me five years ago that I would have a daughter named Daisy one day. Not because it’s not a beautiful name but just because it had never spoken to me in a way other names did. But just like when I dreamt about Hannah before she was conceived and when I knew Blake was a boy even though the ultrasound said he was a girl, Daisy made herself known to me and worked her way into my consciousness a long time before I felt her sweet kicks and bumps in my belly.

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It all started in January 2012, when quite literally the name Daisy just popped into my head. We were trying for another baby and thinking about baby names is a favourite pastime of mine but this seemed a bit too girly and sweet to me. I decided to see what Brian thought of it – completely assuming he would dislike it – and I hoped his reaction would dissuade me. Straight away he said he it was a great name.

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Soon, I began noticing signs… little things that made Daisy a prominent feature in my mind every time I tried to put her to the back of my mind. I began to imagine that I would have another little girl, that this was the spirit of that baby making herself known to me. I began to feel comforted by these little signs and know it was her way of saying to me she was getting ready to come into our lives.

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I began to see the name Daisy in department stores, in movies, photographs and linked in blogs. This happened over and over for a couple of months in mid-2012 and then it seemed to slow down. Around the time of Blake’s birthday in October we decided that since we hadn’t fallen pregnant we would go overseas with my family and we started to make preparations for that. Literally that same week, I had a dream that I was 3 weeks pregnant with a baby girl after not having a baby related dream for a long time. My heart began to ache for this new baby that I now had to wait many more months to meet as I knew we would not be trying to conceive again until we come back from overseas.

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A few days after that dream, we were all getting ready to go out and the kids were bundled in the car with Brian when I went back into our little cottage to quickly sweep some crumbs that the kids had dropped by the doorway so ants didn’t come in while we were gone. As I was doing this, a ladybug landed on my arm. I stared at it and I felt goosebumps. I just knew it was another sign. The lady bug stayed for a minute and then flew off. When I got into the car I mentioned it to Brian straight away, I knew something had just happened . Later that day I opened my Instagram  account and the first photo I saw was of a Daisy flower with a ladybug sitting atop it…

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When we found out we were pregnant less than 2 months later, Brian immediately told me, “Our Daisy is on her way.” and I didn’t doubt it for a second. We just knew this was the child, this was the other member of our family who was coming into our world. I still had hesitations about naming her Daisy though. I felt as though she had named herself instead of us choosing a name for her as we had done with her siblings. I was worried we would make the wrong decision. After another conversation where I rattled off a handful of other names, Brian asked me if I could imagine her name being anything other than Daisy and I knew that I could not. Friends who I had told about my ‘daisy signs’ all had the same reaction when I told them I was pregnant “It’s your Daisy coming to you!” they said and I knew they were right. It was a really nice feeling, like we all knew a little secret that noone else understood.

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When it came to choosing her middle name, for a long time it was going to be Juliet. But our other children’s middle names have a family significance and I knew I wanted to try to find a name for Daisy that did too. Brian’s grandmother, his mother and my mum all have names beginning with ‘M’ so I was initially searching for M names. One night as I tossed and turned in bed with my swollen belly I jumped bolt upright when I remembered  I had always liked the name Emmeline. I quickly googled the meaning and was thrilled to find it meant ‘Hard working’ which seemed perfect as Daisy means ‘The day’s eye’ which always reminds me of dawn. I had a strong feeling Daisy would be born in the early morning so her name meaning hard work at dawn seemed perfect and  the strong M sound worked in with the family significance. I woke Brian up excitedly and let him know I had found the middle name that very moment!

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Each of my children has stretched me and my beliefs and understanding of that womanly intuition. Daisy stretched it the furthest just as she was meant to, and I let her. I let her take me on this journey and I know that her name – although it seems such a small part of her – will always have a big meaning to me and be a part of her story that I will love to share with her when she is grown.

{Photography of Daisy at her newborn photo-shoot at 2 weeks old by Documenting Delight}

A Snapshot of Hannah at 5.5 years old.

Hannah, at 5 and a half years old you are –

Intelligent, curious, kind, thoughtful, positive, responsible, friendly, empathetic, caring and wise beyond your years.

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Hannah, at 5 and a half years old you love –

Green apples, rainbows, movie nights, wearing dresses, carrot sticks, the colours pink and purple, going to Grandma & Grandpas house, unicorns, chicken and chips, riding your bike, playing with friends, gymnastics,  pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup, arts and crafts, baking, red capsicums, painting, collecting things for the nature table, butterflies, dress-ups, going out to new places, blueberries, reading the same books over and over, and being independent.

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Hannah, at 5 and a half years old your secret skills are –

Folding towels precisely; having an incredible memory and being able to recite books and songs verbatim; excellent physical skills like trampolining, balancing and climbing; and using your hair as a scarf on cooler days.

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Hannah, at 5 and a half years old the things I love most about you are –

Seeing your drawings stuck on walls around the house with bandaids; that you’re not afraid of heights; hearing you giggle; your sense of adventure; your negotiation skills; your long hair; and that you’re always looking to the future.

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My darling Hannah, don’t ever change. Always be proud to be YOU!

Daisy’s Herbal Bath, Family Photos + Birth Video

 

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Daisy was 5 days old when these photos were taken. It was my first time having a herbal bath and it was such a lovely experience. Daisy loved it so much she literally fell asleep. Hannah and Blake joined in and loved playing with the flower petals, it was a really calming and sweet bonding activity with their new sibling. Now that Daisy is 6 months old, it seems time has been on fast forward ever since that day.

I am also very happy to be able to share the birth video created by Georgia from Documenting Delight (who also took these wonderful photos) it is such a treasure for our family to have – The Birth Video of Daisy Emmeline