Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saying Good-bye: one journey ends, another begins...

Remember to always find joy in the simple things.
Hello, everyone! Yes, it has been a long time since I have been writing much of anything these days. I'm sure many of you have been thinking that I have been really busy with my newest addition to the family that I haven't had time to blog. Welcoming our daughter, Lachlan's little sister to the world 8 months ago now was a wonderful time for all of us. We have grown and changed as a family unit. Just when you thought you couldn't possibly fit anymore love into our house, a new little baby proves you wrong. We are all very happy and feel blessed.

We have been busy, but the honest truth is I haven't been any busier than usual. Our wee one is a dream baby and she and Lachlan nap at the same time for the most part so I actually have quite a bit of time to get things done around the house and I could blog to my heart's content for at least a couple of hours. How lucky am I?! The reason for my absence from blogoshpere is for another reason: Lachlan.

My little boy will be three this year. (Where has the time gone?) Over the last two years Lachlan has really blossomed and formed his own unique personality, making it quite apparent his likes and dislikes; his strengths and struggles. What I have noticed over the last year is that my son likes his space and freedom within this space. He loves to create and move and just be himself without disruption from the world around him. Most of his play, he does by himself, seeking me or his father only when he needs a question answered or wants to share an accomplishment. The rest of the time he is most content playing in silence; constructing, creating or imagining. It used to be if I interrupted him, he'd tell me to go away. Now, the polite little toddler that he is tells me, "Mommy, I'd like to play alone, please." I say, "okay" and go about my housewife business. At some point the silence in the house will break and I'll hear his little foot steps approaching me followed by, "Mommy, I need your help, please." This is the moment where things will go one of two ways for me. Either I will be able to solve his problem or he'll ask a question that will send me on a wild goose chase through google, seeking answers to such things as what a pudu eats or to what's the shape after a dodecagon. It would be simple to make up answers, (believe me, I've tried this!) he always knows when I'm lying and will insist that we investigate this further. Generally he likes to see proof of some kind (darn, technology!) It won't stop there. If a pudu eats grass then it will turn into what grass consists of: we'll have to take about chlorophyll, root systems and photosynthesis.  And once he has learned what a hendecogon is he'll want to sound it out so he can read it. I never imagined in a million years I'd take about such things with my toddler but that is the reality of it. Another reality is that I am not cluey enough for all of this and I need someone as a live-in Doctorate of All Things to be at my beckon call.  Learning just evolves and evolves like this in our house...Okay, maybe I don't have much blog time afterall!

His love for learning is like every child's. He's fascinated by the world around him and soaks it all up. He often takes it to perplexing levels, that's for sure. He certainly keeps me on my toes and even my husband who is such highly gifted and talented man. I have to admit though, I love seeing him being outsmarted by a toddler every so often!

With all this passion, comes a sense of privacy. Lachlan loves to share what he learns, but it is always on his own terms; when he is confident about his knowledge and feels secure that what he projects will be accepted with open arms. I've been watching these characteristics develop for awhile now and as his parent I've been sensitive to his wishes. Over the last year, he has asked me to not take pictures of him when he's playing. I can tell that the camera seems like an invasion of his privacy  as he often asks me to stop when he sees me take it out. I'm sure there are parents out there that would take the photos anyway or sneak a shot when the child isn't watching. I am not this parent, though. I respect my children and their emotions. There creations and thoughts are their own, certainly not something for me to broadcast with the world when I know it would be against their wishes.

Being a parent has a lot of responsibilities. There are many challenges. Some of the largest ones are those that challenge our way of thinking. One of the reasons I went into my line of work as a developmental specialist is because I love to observe children and families and reflect on what I see. Reflection, I have found is a piece of the child-rearing puzzle that so many people are missing. It isn't even just parents that lack this valuable skill, but also many teachers and childcare professionals.

I firmly believe the keys to good reflection are open-mindedness, empathy and respect. Are you respectful to your child's thoughts and feelings? Being respectful doesn't mean you tolerate negative BEHAVIOUR, but you tolerate and accept negative feeling and EMOTIONS. This is a big realisation and ah-ha moment for some people. Once you truly believe in this thought process and accept its meaning, you will be able to view your child's emotions differently. You will be empathatic and our world needs more empathy, that's for sure.

So with all of this said, I say goodbye. It is a fitting time to end this chapter as we begin a new one next week in a new home. Fresh walls to place our creations and empty rooms to fill with all sorts of imaginative things; accented with love and laughter, of course. I will however be starting a new blog, Emergent Parenting for professional purposes which may be of interest to those who have enjoyed this one. It will be full of information relating to child and family development and will be up and running within the next month or two. I will still share a lot of my home experiences with my children, but in a more private way.

So thank you, thank you for taking the time to follow along on Lachlan's journey over the last couple of years. We both hope that you enjoyed reading our adventures and that you were inspired to create some with the little, dear ones in your own live. Someone once said that life is a journey. It is true, but it is filled with MANY journeys, I believe. Some go on for along time and some end or just begin a new trajectory. What ever journey you are on, whether it be a journey as a parent or other, I hope that it is a journey of peace and that you stop to enjoy all the simple pleasures. I blogged before about stopping to smell the roses, so to speak and stopping to listen, truely listen to your children. Our children will take us on the best journeys if we let them. It isn't always easy and sometimes it is VERY messy but it is ALWAYS worth it. Because in these journeys your child doesn't just grow, you both grow together.

I hope to see you around the other blog...and if you'd like to leave a comment at the end of this for Lachlan it would be most treasured. Before I delete this blog from cyber space I plan on printing it off and putting it in a book for him for his third birthday so we can sit down together and relive some of our wonderful adventures. I think it would be a special treat for him to have a message from someone that he might have inspired.

Signing off and as always, Happy Parenting!

Lachlan and Lachlan's mommy

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Check out my new craft blog!

Hey everyone!

I have just started a new blog called Craft to the Rafters. Here you will find posts on all my crafting shinanigans. I decided to create this blog so that I can keep my crafting projects separate from Lachlan's journey. I will however post any that involve Lachlan and are child-oriented. Most of you know however that I enourage more expressive art in young children, than 'craft'. However, we do still do some from time to time and often Lachlan becomes engrossed in my crafting projects. When this occurs, I modify the project to create one that is developmentally appropriate for him.

At the moment, there is only one project on Craft to the Rafters. This is the Folded Flower project that I posted on Lachlan's blog a few weeks ago. It has now been removed and moved to Craft to the Rafters so you can find it there.

Keep checking in at Craft to the Rafters. I'm working on Halloween wreath at the moment and various other things as I'm planning a pumpkin party for Lach and his friends. I just have to bring some of my good ol' American Halloween fun to Australia. It just isn't the same! A friend and I have also decided to craft together one evening a month (to give us a break from our normal tidying up after the kids fall asleep at night and then crashing and burning on the couch after a long day!). We thought it would be a great opportunity to do something we love and to have some girl chit chat...and of course, I just have to share what we come up with! :-)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Give your wand a little swish...

The other day Lachlan saw a magic wand on a program we were watching. Each time the wand was waved, something would appear: a rabbit, a dog, etc. "Oooooooo," he said. "Cooooool! I like this mommy!"

With that I set out to make a wand my little magician. I wanted to make something soft so he wouldn't hurt himself or others. Running around with a stick in his hand just shouts, "Doom!" A wooden star wand that you pick up at the craft shop was an option but then I could visualise it flying across the room like a ninja star towards his sister...hmmmm, perhaps not. So I decided to go with some felt and make my own tip of the wand. I turned to Rhythm & Rhyme for some inspiration. I'd seen some wands she made up awhile ago and liked their look. I however decided to use a real tree branch from our hard for the handle. We have a curry tree in our vegetable patch that we sadly have to constantly chop down because the root system is bothering our neighbours water pipes. We constantly hack at it to make sure it doesn't grow too big and of course it just grows back with a vengence. It has pretty much become a supply tree for me. I use the branches for all sorts things now!

I think the way I did this craft demonstrates how you can make something for little to no money. I actually had everything on hand and most of it was from something I recycled: the felt was from my scrap box, the branch was from the yard and the ribbons were from one of my shirts (you know the pesky hanger holder loops from the shoulders?), I snipped them off and the matched the wand perfectly and added a little pizazz, too! I used pure wool fleece as stuffing (I always have a bag on hand thanks to our local woolworks farm). I can't help but to think of the sheep when I'm using it. Lachlan always likes to run over to the paddock and say hello to them when we pick up supplies; so we do literally know our fleece by name :)

If you make a wand, make a design that is meaningful to your child. I chose to do moon and stars because Lachlan absolutley is fascinated by them both. I drew the star and moon free-handedly on paper and then used that as a template to cut from the felt. I just used a few beads from my craft box as stars. I sewed a larger, purplish bead as a 'wishing star.' After I finished sewing them all on I heated up the hot glue gun. While I was waiting for that to heat up, I sewed the purple ribbons to the base of the stars (hiding the top ends inside where the stuffing will go). I then glued the felt stars to each side of the branch. Next, I took the floss and began doing a blandket stitch around the outer edges, stuffing the star with wool on either side of the branch before closing it of with stitches. And, voila! There ya have it, I magical wand for you little magician made from natural fibres.

I was pleased with how it came out considering it was something I whipped up in a jiffy. I think this wand with the moon and stars would be a cute think to add to a child's bedtime who is a bit fussy about going to sleep. It could be that magical 'sleep wand' from the Goodnight Fairy. A wand that makes you very, very sleepy!

As all wands should have a special magical rhyme, I made this one up for ours:

"Give your wand a little swish, close your eyes and make a wish!"

What types of wands can you make up? I'd love to see what materials you use and what magical spell you give it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little Old School Noodling...

So tomorrow I am rostered to bring the craft to our Tuesday playgroup. I was assigned to dye noodles and cut straws into segments for the purpose of making necklaces. Yes, it is a very traditional craft. How many parents have not had some sort of noodle artwork hung on their refrigerator or around their neck? It may be a little bit old school but this activity is great for fine motor development.

Using the pincer grasp is a very important milestone for young children. First attempts for infants generally occur while they are feeding; picking up a small cheerio or sultana. As infants grow and become toddlers they master picking up small items using just two fingers: the pointer and thumb. Once this is mastered, children can better use their fine motor skills to assist them with mastering hand-eye coordination. It is one thing to pick up a piece of string and a noodle or bead, it is another thing to be able to thread that noodle on the string. A major accomplishment for a young child! So nooodle art isn't just, "the same old noodle art!" It is something really amaing for a child to do. Of course, you can be more creative than noodles as we like to be in our house. You can thread card board tubes with strings, PVC piping with rope; the opportunities are endless. Just use your noodle and think up some creative ways for your child to do some manipulative work.

As I was prepping the craft for tomorrow, Lachlan decided he would like to make a necklace. I let him go ahead and make one because he rarely does the craft a playgroup. As soon as we arrive he chugs his little caboose straight to the train track set with no intention of making a stop at the craft station.

Lachlan threaded a noodle or piece of straw onto the string and after each one he excitedly said, "I did it! I did it!" I suppose after all these years noodles haven't lost their magic!

When the necklace was created to his liking, Lachlan switched gears. He grabbed his yellow hummer and began sticking straw pieces inside of it. I asked what he was doing and he replied, " Now it a passanger car, mommy!" and so it was and he vroom-vroomed it all around the living room. Just another example of how a child's imagination can turn into anything and take you anywhere!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Gumnut Windchime

Today is Father's Day in the good ol' land of Oz! Lachlan was excited that he could give his daddy the gift that he had been working on- a gumnut windchime. This morning, when I told him it was the day to give his gift to daddy, he ran over to him as fast as his little feet could carry him ad handed him the box. When his daddy opened it, Lachlan acted like he was just as surprised to see what it was. He's so proud of it! We have it hanging from our back porch. There is a gentle breeze today and as I type this I can see it swaying in with pride. I love that Lachlan made it with clay; we can see his little toddler finger prints in it- a reminder that he was once that small. The middle imprint is from a seashell that Lachlan pressed into the clay. I let Lachlan design it as it his his creation, but if one wanted to make a decoration for their home, it would look great if you did an imprint of a gumnut or gumleaves to coordinate.

The rest of the day we spent at the city zoo. It was very fitting as many of the animals have just given birth to their own little babies and you could see some of the males watching over their young with pride; especially the meercats, where there were two young pups.

Now we're back home and both kids are zonked out after a long outing. The house is very quiet and still, probably the best Father's Day gift to hubby of all! I wonder if I can request that for Mother's Day as well?

I'll leave you with a Father's Day poem...

What Is A Dad?

A dad is someone who
wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again.

A dad is someone who
wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence
when you get hurt.

A dad is someone who
holds you
when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith in you even when you fail...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Spring Walk

Some firsts of spring
Today is the first day of September, the first month of spring! We have been waiting and waiting for its arrival. We welcome the warm rays of the sun kissing our face. When I stepped out the door this morning, I told Lach I was going to check the weather to see if it was going to rain. He followed behind me in his pajamas and said, "Nope! A sunny day!" and it has been so far.

It is also Thursday which means it is they day that Lachlan and I have our weekly special morning tea. We walked down to our local cafe for some tasty treats. He had his usual chocolate muffin and I indulged in a vanilla slice. Noelle sat in the pram wondering when she'd have teeth so she could join us.

When we finished we walked across the street to the park we and played on the equipment. Lachlan opened a fruit shop and I bought things for a fruit salad. Lachlan also suggested I buy some rice to but in it too...interesting! We finished our fun by going down the slide, well I WENT down the slide. Lachlan decided it would be fun to catch me. I worked very hard not to plough him over when I got to the bottom. He successfully caught with outstretched arms and we exchanged a nice cuddle. A lady went by with her grandson and asked who was having more fun, him or me? I think we shared in the fun equally.

A closer look

Afterwards we took a stroll around the park and Lachlan began to ask his usual questions. He wanted to know the names of every flower and say them back to me. We saw ferns and star jasmine growing up rocks. We spotted what would be the last winter wattle in bloom of the winter season. I love wattle. It has become one of my favourite blooming trees in Australia. It is just gorgeous. I picked a sprig of wattle from the tree and shared its vibrant yellow colour with Lachlan. We decided to take little cuttings of our favourite plants so we could look at them more closely at home.

Fern and Wattle Rubbings
We examined them with a magnified glass and noted the similarites and differences. We smelled each flower and realised some were very pleasant and others not so much! My main objective was to make a sun catcher out of the samples but I realised that the only baking paper I had was not wax so I'll have to leave that one for another day. Instead, I showed Lachlan how to do a classic paper rubbing with the leaves. Something so simple that probably every one of us has done, but is magical to a child. That is why I like this activity, it reminds us that magic and joy can be found in the most simple things.  He loved how he could make the leaf appear just by using a crayon. Here is his result. He was very pleased. Tonight I think I'll go get some wax paper so we can make that suncatcher tomorrow; just in time to hang beautifully on our kitchen window to catch some spring sun.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

There is something about a rainbow that catches the eye of every child--and adult, too! Most obvious would be it's beautiful colours, but then there is a magical mystical side of the rainbow; wondering if you could ever find the end of it and would there be a pot o' gold? Perhaps a rainbow just always makes us feel good because it can only appear on a rainy day. A rainbow is a glimmer of hope that there may be sunshine the rest of the day and warm rays on our face.

Lachlan loves rainbows. Like many children he gets very excited when he sees one. I believe he's only seen two real ones in his life: a gorgeous double rainbow in Italy and then another one on our recent trip to the Whitsundays. We were walking back from the jetty after a rainy morning and right over the island was a beautiful rainbow. Lachlan was thrilled! He actually asked me to take a picture of him in front of the rainbow. It didn't come out too well, but him posing for the camera for his special shot is priceless.

Look carefully and you'll see the rainbow in the clouds!
 Well yesterday Lachlan was was having fun playing on his daddy's computer. He likes to get into Word and fiddle around with the design buttons to make shapes and change their colours. He wanted to make a rainbow and asked his dad to help him. They printed their work off when they completed. Lachlan was proud.

A rainbow mobile
 I suggested that we do something with their beautiful rainbows. I gathered some muffin patties in rainbow colours from the drawer and some fishing line and before you knew it, Lachlan and I had made a beautiful rainbow mobile. He found a nice place above our kitchen counter to hang it. Now while he's at his easel, he can always look up and remember the order of the colours of the rainbow, just in case he forgets who Mr. ROY G. BIV is :)...for those of you who missed that episode of Seasame Street, he is Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Stay tuned because we are going to be doing a lot more extension from rainbows and water as this has been an interest for Lachlan. We've already done some experimentations and will post them once we have finished.