View From My House

View From My House

Monday, February 21, 2011

So we're officially back to study!

Times they are a changin'

Well, this is new, the layout of blogger, and I must say I like it!!
Today was our official day back to study after a 3 month sabbatical.  The children took it easy today, by writing, but it's going to be hard work all around this year. 

I gave Dante and Kai a scenario to write about:  You are a leader of a lion pride.  You are tranquilised and wake up in a zoo.  How are you feeling what do you see.  Well, almost immediately, Dante turned on tears and didn't want to do any work at all.  It took him in the end 5 hours to do one paragraph, once he finally realised we were not joking and we expected him to get over it and begin working.  Kai, though not wanting to, did a good effort. 

Labyrinth put on hysterics about not being able to find the book we brought for her as an easy getting her into the groove.  I've written in my other blog about her learning disabilities?  Well, basically she has GLD (Global Learning Delay or an IQ of 72), auditory processing disorder, and this is why her learning has been so slow and frustrating.  She is now at school one day a week so she can access a speech pathologist and other specialists (if we can actually get her into one).  It's all been a little, ah... problematic, to say the least.

Raven and Monika, as always, love to do their work and did a fantastic effort.  Oozing pride.

I am also back at university, after sitting last semester out with major depression.  Somehow I snapped back out of it and I am back to some decent semblance of my former self.  The exciting part is I made up my own subject and I get to do it, only two other students were approved.  I am going to write a hypertext narrative about trains and death.  I am also doing German 101, as an easier subject, but I am keen to finally get qualified with it.  And finally Film: Style and Story for a really really easy subject, however it got upgraded somehow I found out today.  Whatever that means.  And I'll have my degree by the end of this year, and I'm weighing up what to do next.  I'll certainly have the numbers to get into honours, that might be fun OR really kick in my heels and be boring and have a post grad in education by the end of next year (you so can have a ed qualification in a year, I was shocked!)

Wouldn't that be a shocker for someone like me?  Die hard homeschooler selling out to work in an enemy camp!!  Well, I might for a while, but I would absolutely LOVE to work in alternative educational institions like Lambert, or Steiner, or even better found a FREE School!  That would be really fantastic, and I am so excited.  That would require money though, I imagine.  However, I stumbled onto a near perfect building method, so it could be fairly cheap to make the structure at very least.  Then grants and funding - but it usually comes with a price tag such as handing more control over to the funders.  So really, not so much a sell out, so!

We also did the mentos/coke experiment with the children.  That was interesting.  We will let them do it themselves at a later date.  Other changes to the homeschool: Raven is of age so he has to be officially working.  Monika is easily up to his standard, not saying he isn't bright, not at all.  He is.  She just shines, she recognises whole words now, and can say for example (we were watching a documentary of David Attenborough Life of Mammals) and she comes out with "This is what was happening in America pre-dinosaurs, wasn't it?"  This is typical for Monika.  It might not have been totally accurate, but it still shows through.

Oh, and my secret?  I've become a witch.  I have embraced my pagan heart, I've come home.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

December 2010 Advent Calendar:

This year I made this advent calendar, it was in the workings before I became a pagan. However, Andrew doesn't believe in my new beliefs, so we'll continue with Christmas next year, we'll just do both!! Every night we drew the appropriate number, it might have simply been a treat, I included Litha into it, or doing a fun activity like cooking, painting or writing letters to Santa. On the 24th, after nan and pop had come for dinner, we organised a treasure hunt to bring in the Christmas spirit of fun! Monika's clue was the fridge, where she found a little present full of chocolate and a clue addressed to Raven which led them to the bbq, then to Kai to the van, then to Dante to the big Tea Tree, and Labyrinth the the rabbit hutch, back inside to a present under the tree, which was a big box of lego to share!!! Q.

Christmas 2010: We hope you had a great day!

Our beautiful Monika after the festivities Christmas night, all tucked in bed surrounded by Tinkerbell bedding!
We love Christmas here, I just wonder how to paganise it!!! Will celebrate Yule at the proper time next year... but for now: A very happy Monika with Dora doll, Tinkerbell dolls and bedding!

A happy whole family with Nerf Guns and an ammo box full of fun foam bullets.

Labyrinth with a Silvermist doll, she also got a 14 pixel camera, and a Twilight Doona/Duvet cover.

Boys will get into their toys and make such messes~!

Above is the children on Christmas Eve, all excited for the big man in red to terrorise neighbourhoods everywhere!

Labyrinth's Doonah above, and below the boys have a new decor to their room: Dinosaurs!!

On Christmas Eve we had my parents around for honey and herb glazed ham, (made by me - it was absolutely gorgeous thank you Matt Moran!), salad and new taties. Mum brought pav with home grown berries for dessert! For brekkie the children enjoyed gluten free lolli... I mean choc chip cookie cereal for breakfast (so sweet and soo sooo bad!) For lunch we had the ham, a roast turkey, and roasted lamb on the bbq. I got witchy stuff like books, candles, incense and wooden boxes for Christmas, while Andrew got lots of models... We had a great Christmas, I hope you all enjoyed Christmas too - but best of all the happiness the children all enjoyed was the best! OH! This was our first year of getting up before the children this year, YAY for us!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Litha: Our Summer Solstice!

Well, its that time of year again, ahhh... not for us! We are still celebrating Christmas this year, but we're incoporating the pagan holidays into the mix this year. So Litha, is of course, the celebration of the Sun, and in some ways pagan father's day. We celebrate and show gratitude for the sun, the God is in his prime and fatherhood. celebration of life when the Goddess is giving in all her abundance with the summer harvests, and as such a special day of having fun!

This is the Sun Pinyata I made this year, in secret for a surprise for the children (and for all but two days, Andrew):

Inside was gold coins, representing the golden sun and the darkness it hides.

This is the children lining up to do the Pinyata thing:

Our humble Litha Feast:

We had watermelon stars, and melonade, greek salad, sun cakes (they had chunks of chocolate through them see gold coins above, same concept), chargrilled corn, bbq meats, GF treats! The suncakes ended up being not as nice, I sourced those from the Circle Round: Raising Children In Goddess Traditions book by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill. We also used their fairy money idea (good for hugs, kisses and time for activities one on one with mum or dad), gifting our representative father and the pinyata.
After we sang and danced around the backyard and we had a really good evening, no I didn't stay up all night! Q.

Rite of Passage: Labyrinth's Menarche

The stories of so many women I've talked to about their own menarches have been, quite frankly either terrorising for a young teen or just plain pathetic. Mine was just plain humiliating. I had a small bleed that lasted maybe a day or two. No one had explained a lot to me, just what I'd read in some 'not like reality' scientifically based puberty books I'd read when I was 5 or 6, so I wasn't expecting a little one to come, and then two weeks later a full on one to appear when I was in class with 30 other people! The blood had soaked through my school dress, and onto the seat. The class was the worst possible choice for such an incident - wood work. My teacher actually laughed along with all the other students. He was probably embaressed and didn't know how to react, but..!! My parents made me go back to school same day and face the humiliation that can only be dished out by pubestants penned into cages can. A girl who I thought was my friend actually threw tampons and pads at me in front of two grades worth of people.

Well needless to say, I want my daughters experience not to echo anything I had to experience, but be a beautiful, welcoming into the world of womanhood. I had been thinking about this for months actually, since Labyrinth had already started Thelarche I knew it was coming. I had guessed it might happen around Dantes birthday and had started to plan for it. I was never expecting it was going to happen roughly a week before Christmas!! (I had also begun preparations for Litha too - now that I'm pagan.)

So she told me that morning it had begun, she was excited about it, we'd actually discussed preforming a menarche ritual and having a lovely meal, I wanted it to be a party with other friends, but that wasn't to be. So, to begin with Labyrinth enjoyed a bath with rose petals through it, and some incense oils infused into the bath. I put around her white, pink and red candles. I left her to enjoy that (I was flat out working on the meal), then I painted her with the best thing I had - face paint! I made goddess symbols, spirals around her body, and I told her she had gone into the water innocent, now she rose as a full maiden. She wore red silk shirt (that went to her knees) for the rest of the night so some of the marks were visable.

I read her a dedication, invited the goddess and again welcomed Labyrinth to womanhood in front of the family, and we enjoyed non-alcholic red wine as a toast. We then ate a red meat roast with salad, with red onions, fetta, red lettuce and tomotoes and fetta. The colours of white. pink and red where echoed through out. I had prepared the cupcakes above, a beautiful red velvet cupcake I can't take credit for - it came from the Zombie Cupcake book by Zilly Rosen (totally recommended.) I just made red icing and put strawberries on top. We later gave her a gift, it was a doll, and a bouquet of red flowers.

Its a memory she can cherish forever, knowing she has parents that love her enough to try and make positive and lasting memories for her!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Thought I'd add this

I can't abide homeschool bashing by people who don't know what homeschooling is really about. I found such a thread on the new government site called "MySchool". I had to reply. (Here's the link.)

I'll put my words here though, in case they go missing...
This seems to be a bit of an anti-homeschooling and a school bashing thread.

Firstly, I homeschool my 5 children. I could never imagine sending them to school. Why? Because school has never and doesn't seem to have the ability to address the needs of all students. People forget that homeschooling existed BEFORE school was institutionalised, and it is very natural and a reasonable choice for a parent to make. Yes, orginally I had my daughter and son in school but I regret it. They picked up bad habits, and my daughter was bullied, 6 years on still not fully recovered. But I digress...

Natural learning/unschooling is the term you are looking for Alana. This is a valid path, but one of many paths a parent who homeschols can make. There is also school at home, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, Ready to go Curriculum, Internet based, religious based and eclectic are all choices one can make.

Obviously, you are all uninformed and making assumptions about something you really know nothing about. Alana, two homeschooled children do not represent the homeschooling community as a whole. Marion, sadly you have a picture of homeschooling that is lacking. Yes, the education system is failing, it is doomed to fail as is, or make children into mindless workers who don't think outside the box.

Don't take my word for it read celebrated ex-teacher from New York John Gatto Taylor's criticism of modern schools

Marion I'd also like to ask why you didn't tap into the huge homeschool communty of Qld? I've lived there and I know there are many homeschool activities and communities of varying styles all around, easy to google, find on Yahoo groups. Sure its lonely if you don't socialise, but the people are there if you want to meet them. When I was up there were two informal play groups meeting in North Brisbane, one of which met in various parks weekly and had a lending library and are so willing to help newcomers, very lovely community. Of course other groups run excersions and science classes and all kinds of interesting activities. Theres a Sunshine group, a christian group, Briby Island group that all meet and support one another, and that's just off the top of my head.

Of homeschooling children I know they are beautiful and individual people, they aren't socially backward, some like to be introvert but that's natural in any setting, school or no. Homeschoolers tend to be more able to associate without barriers of sex and age, they are tolerant. School settings are the ones which I have found to be the unnatural setting, putting children same age together they tend to have some rather nasty interactions (rarely this happens with home educated children). Teenagers don't have the same peer pressure to conform or consume or go through fads.

And Glenn, I'm not bashing the people involved in schooling, its just the system, the teachers themselves have been 'set up' to perform their roles and have been educated to think in one way. Teachers do seem to be critical of homeschooling (it is their means of income). I know a principal very well and he is open minded enough to 'wait and see' how my children turn out.

I think the government/education system could do better by opening their minds. I rather like the model (I can't take credit, but I can't recall it's name) where its an open education system, where the teacher has a more facilitator role, its age open I believe, ie adults and children can learn in the same class. It onus is on the self, you go research and work on individual or group projects and learn what you need as you complete it, the teacher is a sounding board and various discussions are the means of communicating ideas. There is a communal learning space that is rather like a library with computers and there are spaces set aside for various activites cooking, science, technical learning like sewing/metal work/wood work etc. No one is forced to learn anything but encouraged to discover, naturally learn and to interact with others as they learn. I believe some split off and learn a trade (which they presumably have experience with already) at age 12, where they take an apprentiship.) Not unlike how it used to be in the past. The theory is one can base their natural predispositions into become really really good at one thing, something they can have real pleasure in and not worry too much about a shallow attempt to learn everything and come away not really being great at anything.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Explanation and an Apology.

Hey !

I am sorry I haven't been around, I keep kicking myself, but there are some pretty good reasons.

I will endeavour to change my wicked ways and keep up posting because I have enjoyed it in the past so much.

Several things have prevented me from posting. My familie's health and my own. Yeah, sorry excuse maybe, but true nonetheless. I myself have been recentlyish been diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome of the secondary variety, something I've lived with literally for years and never knew that it wasn't normal. It's lovely to have some relief from that... It's obviously secondary to my primary condition of Coeliac's Disease. See my other blog here. That alone would not have stopped me from communicating in the intricate web of eminds.

Labyrinth was recently diagnosed with two definitive problems: Universal Global Developmental Delay and Phonetic Processing Disorder. These do NOT complete the puzzle that is Labyrinth. She's had to take epilepsy tests twice now, and they are undertaking further genetic testing. If nothing shows then we'll be seeing her pediatrician late this month to see if she requires further testing, she does require further treatment, this is a known fact. The government now approve her for having a disability. This is going on while she is experiencing the pains of Thelarche, while she sometimes can seem still like a toddler. OK, this isn't Labyrinth's complete picture at all. She's off charts for her age with Bodily-Kinetic and Spatial (See Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences), considering she's got a small weight problem (which is now changing as she matures and is getting a little slimmer), its a little odd. Add to the fact she is ever hungry, cannot be filled up, only gets what the other children eat, plus is quite fit, her body does not 'fit' with her current energy levels/eating levels.

I had to drop out of university this semester. This hit me like a bomb, I was aware of Labyrinth's symptoms, of course, but... I went from first stage depression (which I was only aware of for two weeks) to borderline third stage in under two weeks. I didn't even realise there were stages. I tried Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for those two weeks and was needing to be medicated very quickly before I completely lost it.

That's the tip of the ice burg. Dante looks to have major childhood depression (worrying early, so he might develop bipolar as a teen - poor darling). Kai has become incontinent in his bowels. Monika and Raven have thier dietry issues. Then there is Andrew, he's suffering very badly from headaches, literally constant since early this year. He's got them except when hes asleep it just varies to what degree. Of the tests completed his MRI came back negative, but somewhere along the line he has had his nose broken with swollen sinuses, and he has badly impacted wisdoms. These wisdoms aren't painful at all, unless they are causing the headaches. If it's NOT these reasons they need to begin looking at other reasons, like environmental. He's convinced its not his nose, and doubts its his teeth as it's extremely rare for just headaches. Its making him depressed.

I just want to move, the space is crushing my spirits, there isn't enough room to live here with 7 people, all wanting to pursue different avenues of interests. Argh... But the view is amazing. I need a sea change. We need a new car, preferably a Land Cruiser/Rover so we can have a trailer.

I am having a change of religion too. Positives for another post thought, coming soon!