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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An Alternative Education – Learning Without School

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In January this year when most children Hannah’s age were donning their uniforms and backpacks and heading off to their first day of school, Hannah slept until 8am and then we headed to our local city farm to explore, learn and hang out with our friends.  We had the most amazing day and as I watched my 5 year old running around in her dress-up tutu and painting with clay, I knew we had made the right decision.

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During my pregnancy with Hannah I became obsessed not just with preparing for birth but for everything related to parenting, and this eventually took me down the path to Alternative Education. I began to use little bits of all the different philosophies and methods I had read about, in our day to day life. I love so much about the Montessori approach and our home is designed to be very child friendly and is influenced by many Monetssori principles. Some aspects of the philosophy were missing for me and so I adopted what could easily be termed Steiner ideas into our home as well.  As Hannah grew though, and as we watched her take her first plunge into ‘academic’ learning just after she turned 2 by learning to write the letter ‘H’ we – well, mostly I! – felt a little lightbulb go off that quietly said ‘She is learning, not by force or compulsion, but naturally‘. And so I did what I have always felt was right and I followed my child.

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As Hannah grew, we watched her learn. She learned from the moment she woke up to the time her eyes closed and we were even speculating that she was learning in her sleep (which is actually true!). As I watched this process happen I started to question everything I had known or read or accepted about education. I began to see that children are born to learn. I mean, everyone knows that, but I began to see this for what it really is – a completely natural state for a child. A state of constant inquisition with the driving force being a need to learn how to grow into a competent adult in the society they have been born into.

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When Brian and I sat down and discussed what we wanted for our children in the future, we decided we wanted to find a way where our children could learn with joy, with desire and with a thirst for knowledge. Where we could be there next to them as a companion that could answer questions when asked, supply materials if needed and offer different perspectives when required. We wanted to be the person who could offer inspiration and varied experiences and then leave them to learn for themselves like we knew they could. We knew this because we had watched them learn since the day they were born.

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No one taught my baby to crawl or babble or reach for a toy or touch her toes. She noticed the toy and felt the desire to touch it so she strived to reach that goal until she did. It was an insatiable need and she wasn’t going to be satisfied until that toy was in her grasp. And how did she feel when she held that toy and moved it to her lips to finally begin to recognise exactly what it was that she had been looking at that whole time? Absolute delight! And satisfaction. And then she moved onto the next thing, the previous knowledge safely tucked away to be used in the future. She never did anything before she was ready and never until the learning was meaningful to her.

Everything my children have learned happened in the right way, in the right order and at the right time. For them.

And we trusted it to happen that way.

We expected it.

And it did. They learned. And they have never stopped.

And you know what?

I still see that same delight in their eyes when they reach a new learning goal  – whether it be climbing a tree or writing a word – that I saw when they were just babies. Their desire for knowledge has never been disapproved of or feared. We have always welcomed it with open arms even when it seemed frightening to us. We knew they were ready to learn it because they wanted to try. We trust that they will want to learn the things Brian and I know – such as reading and writing – because they see us use these skills in every day life. We trust that when those skills become important to them that they will become interested in learning them and we have no doubt they will.

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And so in the last 5.5 years, Brian and I have been witness to something spectacular – our children learning all about life, through life itself. It really is a beautiful thing to watch. To see the opportunities that are created every hour to learn and to watch children take on the challenge with an enthusiasm that is essentially unremarkable because it is their everyday. That is the true beauty of this approach to learning, to life. When we began to look very closely into our childrens world we began to see that learning is everywhere and in every thing and this is what makes us confident in our decision to unschool our children.

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I won’t go too much into what unschooling is as a philosophy as there are many other sources of that information elsewhere. But basically it is all about what I described above. This is a quote from a blog called The Path Less Taken that sums up unschooling really well – “Unschooling is a philosophy that allows that given a rich, interesting environment, and attentive, supportive parents, that learning will happen naturally.  To believe in unschooling is to believe that true learning happens best when it arises from the experiences and interests of the learner, not from an imposed curriculum or a teacher or a parent.  As unschooling parents, we don’t act as teachers, but as facilitators and partners.  We do not separate the day into subjects, or into school time, or play time, or learning time.  We live as if school does not exist.  We live our lives and we learn from it.

I am not pedantic about labels though. Our life is what it is. We know why schools exist and we don’t feel that they will need to be a necessary part of our childrens lives. We feel that learning cannot be contained or explained or tested. It cannot be trained or directed or controlled. It is a personal, individual and unique experience that every person travels through themselves. Learning doesn’t only last for 12 years! It should continue for a lifetime.

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As an example – which was prompted after hearing Dayna Martin speak at the Conscious Parenting and Natural Learning Conference we attended in 2012 – I realised just how much time and effort I had put into learning about pregnancy, labour and birth. I knew almost as much as a midwife and yet I wasn’t going to be be tested on this information. I was reading, researching and memorising because I desired to do so. I had a goal and I was meeting it. It was entirely self-initiated and therefore it was self-activated. My satisfaction came from the learning itself. I was educating myself because the learning was meaningful to me. This is the key to unschooling.

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This realisation affirmed for me how much I wanted my children to keep that love of learning burning in their hearts. I wanted them to feel that if they wanted to know about something that all they had to do was follow that desire and seek the required knowledge. Keeping our children home from school makes sense to us. We are living in the real world and our children will learn from living every day, following their passions, experimenting, asking questions, travelling and experiencing new things. We don’t need to teach our children how to learn. That is an oxymoron. They have been learning since they took their first breath and we know all we need to do is step back and let them live life. And for us, that just happens to mean life without school.

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[I will be blogging more of our unschooling journey in the near future but if you want to see more real-life updates then follow us on Instagram via 'hippyhappymama' and check out the #ourunschoolingjourney hashtag]