Dearest Hannah – Happy 6th Birthday!

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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

Facilitating Unschooling // The Writing Centre

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I am often asked questions about how unschooling works in our family and sometimes people have trouble imagining how our home is designed if we never do any structured, sit-down bookwork. As unschoolers, we do believe that learning comes from all things in everyday life and we do not need designated learning areas in order to learn. However, this concept was something my children valued and enjoyed and this is the reason we have decided to continue with the addition of specifically tailored areas in our home that address the childrens needs. In our new house I have set up a bigger, more permanent, more inviting space designed around the childrens needs and I will blog about those areas in 3 seperate posts. First up, the writing centre -

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We have recently moved back to the house that we own after renting closer to the city for a few years. I knew this move was going to happen since around March this year, so I have spent quite a bit of time considering how I will organise the house to suit our entire family. Since we share a family bedroom, we have always had the room to have a dedicated play/learning space in another bedroom. However I quickly noticed the children rarely played in that room for long amounts of time and generally just brought items out into the lounge room. So I began setting up little corners of play where we all gather, as Lori Pickart from Project Based Homeschooling calls it – the heart of the home.

Hannah has always loved to write, doodle, draw and make marks on paper. She first put pen to paper at age 2 and hasn’t stopped since. I’m not sure where I first saw the idea of a writing table/centre but it was probably on Pinterest.  I immediately knew Hannah in particular would love it and as I was planning on buying her a journal for Christmas that year, I knew the writing centre would compliment that nicely. I didn’t have any expectations of how and when they would use it though, rather I set it up as an invitation. Both children took to it with gusto, and Blake wrote his first recognisable letters sitting there for the first time. They have both used it regularly since then and it’s been great to have a specific space for our writing supplies.

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Since moving, I have added a few new parts to our writing centre. I was really excited about the addition of this simple wooden ‘mailbox’ (I bought this from a thrift/op-shop) and judging by the amount of mail and letters we have been inundated with, the kids like it too!  Hannah has always loved writing little letters to her friends and grandparents and this is a nice extension on that activity. When her grandma was sick recently she was able to write her a  real letter, address it accordingly on the envelopes we have available, and send it off. She was even more excited to receive a reply addressed to her.

All Rights ReservedAll our white and coloured paper, notebooks, post-it notes, staplers, rulers, and extras are all housed and easily accessible in this shelf to the left of the writing centre. This shelf – just like the writing table, chair and most of the baskets – was sourced from thrift/op-shops.

All Rights ReservedA better look at the baskets which house stamps, stickers of all shapes and sizes and Montessori sandpaper letters in lowercase.

All Rights ReservedAfter watching the children use the writing centre and their mailbox for a few days I realised they were constantly asking us how to spell particular names. I needed to find an easy way for them to find the names of the members of our family so they could have more independence with their writing and this was my quick solution. I cut up some recent photos and wrote our names in upper and lowercase next to them. I plan to add grandparents and extended family soon too.

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 This simple project has had a tremendous impact on both children. Blake’s confidence with using pencils and paper has improved and he is excited to write or draw his letters and put them in the envelopes. He is recognising his own name better and attempting writing more letters. Hannah has begun to remember common words used in letter writing such as ‘To’, “From’, ‘And’, ‘Love’ and of-course all our names. She has also begun to use questions in her letters which has been a good jumping off point for talking about punctuation. But the table has been used for more than just writing letters. Maps have featured prominently as have puppets, painting, card-making and all forms of art.

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Having a writing centre in our home has shown our children that we value communication in all it’s forms, and that their attempts at writing, drawing or any way they choose  to use these materials is important to us and they have the freedom to use them whenever and however inspiration strikes. Making sure our children feel comfortable, valued and respected in our home is one of the keys to unschooling, and having spaces that inspire and recognise their needs is just one way that we do this.

 

 

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

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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!

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 look 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!

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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.

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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

All Rights Reserved[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.]

 

 

What I want my children to know about breastfeeding…

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Breastfeeding means a lot to me.

After my disappointing attempt at breastfeeding Hannah I did a lot of research on the dynamics of breastfeeding and what helps a woman become a successful long-term breastfeeder (this was my goal with my future children). I realised that I had missed out on one of the key aspects – watching and being around other women who breastfeed. So I made sure I changed that in preparation for Blake’s birth. I searched out new groups of friends, I watched those women breastfeed, I asked them questions, I made mental notes. Going into Blake’s birth I felt confident that he was going to get my breastmilk no matter what, and seeing other women breastfeed played a big part in me feeling so confident. I needed to see it in real life all around me, just like women before me had for most of time.

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I knew I wanted my children growing up feeling that breastfeeding was a really normal, achievable way to feed a baby. That our bodies were made to lactate and that although it can be a hard skill to learn, it can be done with support and love. I wanted them to grow up seeing their siblings be breastfed and friends babies grow up breastfeeding so that this would become part of their world view. I believe our bodies are amazing, and I want to pass on that amazement, that pure respect,  onto my children. And so far, from what I see in their play and in the way they relate to babies, I can see it has made the difference that I hoped for.

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The health benefits of breastmilk are amazing and we still don’t know so much about this incredible milk our bodies were made to give our babies, but for me the benefits to breastfeeding Daisy right now are very much for our whole family and the community in general. As a wonderful friend of mine said “The more we see it, the less we will see it.” and I believe that to be true. I find breastfeeding as normal now as any other type of eating and I love that my children, and my husband do too.

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So yes, breastfeeding means a lot to me. But now, it also means a lot to my children.

(In honour of World Breastfeeding Week 2014)

[Photos 2 & 3 by Documenting Delight]

Our Family Adventures – April, May, June

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We were so busy throughout April, May and June. We celebrated Easter and then had family from Croatia staying with my parents which meant lots of fun day trips to show them the sights. I had a lovely Mother’s Day in May and in June we took a road-trip to stay with Brian’s family for a week. We even went camping in Winter at the beach (I will add that in a separate post as there are already too many photos!). We’ve really soaked up the Winter sunshine the last few months and spent so much time outdoors which has been delightful. This is just a collection of what we got up to -

 

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