Monday, December 12

learning grumpies

The first two grumpy sessions went by as normal. On her third (very prolonged grumpiness for a 'small' trigger) a tiny bell went off. But that morning, on her 4th big frustration-verging-on-meltdown-but-not-quite-getting-there episode. I realised - ah, something has built up and needs help getting out.

At this age now, 31/2, getting her to release via a tantrum or big cry isn't as easy. Before, simply her own frustration and my own frustration at the situation, got things going nicely. It was fine for her to direct her anger at me to release. But I want her to begin to understand more how having a big cry/scream is what we can do if things have built up to such a level. That having a cry is good and it's not out of anger at me, necessarily.

So I was unsure what to do. She is still young of course.
I asked her if she wanted to cry - NO!!!
I mimicked her angry face, her quivering lip, her stance, feeling her emotions. This helped a little.
I thought of asking her to punch a cushion. This annoyed her. Good. I figured it could work in reverse.

So I took her to a safe place in the kitchen, got down on my knees, and told her to hit the cushion. And kept at it. And it got her angrier and angrier, and she screamed, and finally the tears came out.

I knew there was more, but she wanted a hug and that calmed her down. Perhaps another go if a 'grumpy' comes up.

Then we went upstairs, cuddled under covers, she was better. And she asked to do some reading. So downstairs to fetch the 'big reading book', and then on my way upstairs, BINGO - the grumpy sessions, the pent up emotions... all coincided with her recent huge cognitive leaps in reading! Big leaps, plus little frustrations... of course it was building up.

I'm so glad I can give her this gift - of loving acceptance towards those difficult emotions. A safe place to release.

And after reading, and her being totally relaxed and happy, we chatted about how grumpies want to come out.  
'How can we let them out?' 
'By crying.'
'That's right darling. And then a hug............. I love you so much.'
'I love you too mummy'



Friday, December 9

joy pockets #35

browsing bookshops with English books and notebooks

.
hearing her read full sentences
.
finding balance, feeling lighter
.
a trip into the capital
.
financial possibilities
.
soup
.
new art ideas
.
mama time while she attended a party with daddy
.
spiritual chats
.
silence
.



joy pockets

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And enjoy visiting those ahead of you!


Tuesday, December 6

learning at home, deciding

I've written virtually nothing on this but felt it about time, and was in a writing mood.

I've not written because it's an almost ridiculous toing-n-froing in my mind. I mean, I come to a complete definite answer...and then switch back. I may be a Libran, but I'm actually incredibly decisive.

Despite having little faith (not, no faith) in the schooling system, I believe more strongly that homeschooling is not for everyone. Not for every parent and not for every child. Despite some very dogmatic believers out there, school can be exactly what your child wants/needs - like it or not.

So, that aside. My dilemma comes not from whether it's right for my child, because I believe in homeschooling. Also, I'm totally open to taking her to school if at some point she desires it and we find a decent school. I won't sacrifice her unique needs her for my theoretical beliefs.

My dilemma centres on my needs. Unlike some homeschoolers, I believe in a whole family approach, not a child-centred one. That means that everyone ought to feel good about the choices. I've read articles and discussions online aiming to induce guilt. Not for me thanks.

However, when I say my needs, it includes her more than that might suggest. I need creativity, space to think, meaningful work (at home), and lots of silence. These are, for me, fundamental to feeling balanced, whole, sane.

I'm also not a crafty hands-on mama. I'm okay with that. My gifts to my child are word related, books, reading, ideas, computer use, languages, discussion. Also compassion and related social awareness. I also provide paints and pencils and lots of paper. I just don't sit there making stuff out of toilet-paper rolls.

And despite being so great at the word stuff, her incessant talking can drive me to distraction. She is a clingy child and until the Husband comes home, has dinner, showers, a cup of coffee and a quick breath after work, and then plays with her and I leave the room, I rarely have 5 straight minutes of silence.

So having a child at home is exactly antagonistic to my needs. It's a combination of that and being rubbish at many activities (or rubbish at wanting to do them). And that we live a little isolated.

I am determined to have her at home until school age (6ish). So that has meant no nursery, preschool, etc. But after that? So many fun things, so much communicating, different view points, that she can engage in.

I do not for one minute believe that school can give her more than I can give her. But I can see how it can provide certain things I'm unwilling to give. I can make toilet-roll puppets, but I'd rather stick a hot fork in my eye.

I can see that for natural mamas, for very hands-on mamas, it's no big deal.

When I'm of the mind that we can do this, I see it's possible if we had clubs, communities, outside activities to attend. Not really possible here (in Montenegro), but possible if we returned to England. But that means an enormous shift of lifestyle. Can we retain the lifestyle we have worked for (out of the rat-race) and live in England? Or do we find a great school, Montessori or something? But that costs too.

And community. Here, she is not only a foreigner, an expat kid, but also the only one of her expat friends who doesn't attend pre-school/school. It won't be long before she becomes aware of that. She is a lone outsider in a tiny outsider community.

Then just a couple of days ago, when she talked like a champion talker, I said to the Mr - school would stifle her. They spend half the time telling kids to be quiet. She has an innate emotional need to talk things out. She might drive me batty, but I never ask her to be quiet (or at least not 99% of the time).

I have also thought that it would be easier as she gets older. After all, an older child can entertain themselves so much more right? I could just be the provider of guidance of which she takes up and does her thing her way. But then I know of at least one mama who found a 7-yr-old at home like returning to toddler days - everything had gone back to bite-sized portions of time.

On days I hear her read and tell stories and do her puzzles while I write or read or crochet, I feel glowing and love that I'll be giving her the gift of homeschooling.

On days she will not stop to breathe for talking, when she clings and clings and refuses to play alone, when I look back and see she did very little other than watch DVDs and read a few books, and I am desperate for a nap for the sake of my health and some silence for the sake of my sanity, and at the end of the day I'm in tears for the lack of both.... I think, no way homeschooling.

You see? Round and round. If nothing else, I wanted to write this out. To have here to read back one day. And of course I've simplified it all for the sake of brevity.

Talk to me mamas.

Friday, December 2

joy pockets #34

A nice week.
I'm taking it easy.



.
watching self-directed learning
.
thai green curry
.
knowing beauty
.
hot cocoa weather
.
the sun shining in it's Autumn way
.
chocolate cookies minutes from the oven
.
writing my book
.
4hrs of mama time!
.
being of help
.
crochet + a chick-flick
.



joy pockets


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Thursday, December 1

reading round-up

I'm struggling to keep my posts up with her progress!

So, let's see. She learnt the full 42 sounds,

1. s, a, t, i, p, n
2. c/k, e, h, r, m, d
3. g, o, u, l, f, b
4. ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
5. z, w, ng, v, oo, oo
6. y, x, ch, sh, th, th
7. qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

mostly by watching the CBeeBies DVDs. She's still learning to spot group 7 in words though, but we haven't concentrated on that yet. I suppose I better get my act together and print out some words focusing on those sounds.

She reads words such as ship, shop, post, chip, easily.

She wanted to write and really, her motor skills aren't fully developed at only 31/2. So I started her on pre-writing skills:
following a maze
tracing lines, squiggles, zigzags, holding pencil correctly

Then also understanding concepts like, before, between, different from, doesn't match, begins with, ends with, and such, for later understanding what is asked concerning letters in words.

She's played online alphabet and phonic games and listened to songs.

Yesterday she started using a wipe-clean book (love these!) to trace actual letters. She loves doing her 'work', just like mama and tata have work (daddy).



I bought the Jolly Phonics workbooks but, disappointedly, they're geared towards writing rather than reading. I was keeping them for later but she wanted to do them. So today she traced S, and did well but is unable to write her own S yet. I'm a little concerned that she'll get discouraged if unable to write, but she doesn't seem at all put off. I think as long as I give her letters to trace rather than try writing on her own.

Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons, arrived a couple of days ago, which is very clearly set out and I recommend. However, she's way passed it already. I thought it was going to be more complex than it is. Very much a starting book. I can make use of the final lessons at least.

In other news... for some reason (possibly hearing others around her speak) she has started to ask, 'what is the Serbian word for x' (daddy's mother-tongue and the language spoken where we live currently). Spanish has taken a bit of a backseat.

She's also enjoying art - painting, colouring, glueing - more than ever.She prefers just to paint splashes of colour rather than actual pictures.


Friday, November 25

joy pockets #33

I'm offline this week, on a break, 
but wanted to have the linky up for you lovely mamas.


.

joy pockets


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if you've done your own, add the link to your actual POST below
And enjoy visiting those ahead of you!

Friday, November 18

joy pockets #32

Still super tired. Miss 3 has a lingering cold.
No lengthy alone time for me this week.
The internet guy is ignoring our calls.
The in-laws forgot to send a package from UK that I asked for.

But there were little joys.


.
lentil and spinach curry
.
hearing her put words together
.
bananas on French toast
.
dinner with friends
.
new water-colour pencils
.
new art ideas
.
adult chats while the kids run crazy
.
booking the flights to England
.
sunny Autumn days
.



joy pockets


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Tuesday, November 15

reading

I was more than happy to leave off reading until she was over 5 years old. But her love of letters has only increased, as well as wanting to know what words start with, and 'reading' her books.

So although she's only 31/2, I decided to give it a formal start and take her cues how she wants, or doesn't want, to proceed.

I ordered some phonic resources from Amazon and as there was no rush we waited on them before starting anything. They arrived last Friday and we made a start.

Well, after a 10min run through the very basics - sounding out letters and running them together to read a whole word - she was reading new 3-letter words on her own. Blimey, so she was more then ready.

She has a short attention span with the sounding out, perfectly right for her age. So we might only do 5-10mins. And then she loves to watch the phonic dvds.

Also, rather than sounding out the letters slowly, running them together, she sounds out each letter than forms the word in her head, then says the word! Smart-ass! :) But I'm trying to get her to do the slower work as she'll need to for longer words.

Yesterday, I had phonics coming out of my ears! Dvds, learning books, jigsaws, snap game, matching pairs..... phew



As a note, I'm disappointed in good phonic resources. Am I looking in the wrong places? They're either expensive or confusing or out-dated.

This first set I mention is fine. But while it seems like a starting kit, it goes much too fast through the basics. It's really better after the child has had basic work first and then this set as a reinforcement. She sees there are further items on the dvd and more books and wants to use them, but they jump too far ahead.
The other issue I have, is that on the dvds they present a letter not just as a starting letter but 'in a word'. Quite confusing for a child starting to read to see pencil as a word in the i list because it has i in it.

There is a ton online to print out, but with the cost of ink, it can be more cost-effective to buy a book.

What I expect from basic phonic learning is:

letter sounds not letter names
not capitals
letters sounded out without the incorrect uh ending sound - mmmm, not muh
letters learnt first as the start of words
reading books that follow the stages but have more than 1 sentence a page (hello, kids memorise!)
visual letters not of the pre-cursive font



That precursive i totally confused her and she attempted to call it a j.

I'm now asking her occasionally to read out 3-letter words in the usual books we read together.


Friday, November 11

joy pockets #31

Just not getting 2 consecutive nights of decent sleep.
Need these pockets to look back and remember there were little joys.


.
making not-sweet-enough cookies
so that now I have baked oatmeal for breakfast
.
this dessert
.
quietly colouring-in our respective art in the studio
.
the house filled with cinnamon + vanilla scents
.
the weekly playgroup
.
the chance to indulge in a period drama, all alone
.
feeling grounded
.
new markers & pens
.
ever so slightly improved internet connection
it's something
.
working on some digital art
.


joy pockets


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And enjoy visiting those ahead of you!

Thursday, November 10

bits of you

the alphabet is still a firm interest
~
you like to ask, "what would X say if I..."
such as 'what would the hippo say if I tickled him' and various weird examples
~
as you love us telling you stories, i bought you audio stories
which you really enjoy as you flick through the books
~
you're fascinated with kaki (poop)
~
you're getting happier at playing alone for longer periods
~
you suddenly got the hang of steering your tricycle a few weeks back
~


you prefer not to be watched when doing an activity
~
you're eating more meat, snuck into soups
~
last Wednesday was your first lengthy away-from-mama time
31/2hrs
you went with tata to a playgroup for the local expat kids
you had a blast, were happy but clingy all during the night and wanting extra cuddles the next morning.
this week you seem to have taken it more in your stride.
~
you asked about a distinction between genitals
~
probably influenced by watching mama do her art, you have embraced colouring-in
and it's one of the few activities you become absorbed in

...

I'll be here tomorrow with joy pockets.

Friday, October 28

joy pockets #30

Exhausted from lack of sleep, but otherwise creatively productive.



.
making & tasting red pepper chutney
.
doodling, a lot
.
doodling together
.
cinnamon
.
a reading marathon that finished a book
.
shards of light through the clouds
.
friends
.
amazon
.
a hope for a better internet connection
fingers crossed
.
looking forward to getting out and about
.



joy pockets


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And enjoy visiting those ahead of you!

Friday, October 21

joy pockets #29

From chaotic frustration to intentional calm.


.
custard creams
(is this just a British cookie?)
.
working out a way to make art
.
the lone piece of ginger at the bottom of the cup
.
understanding that emotions are fleeting
.
the energy of the 'right' place to create
.
the way chilli flakes look sprinkled over coconut cream
.
cuddles
.
a thai curry
.
a diminishing cough
.
skyping with family from our house!
.


joy pockets


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Friday, October 14

joy pockets #28

I've not found it an easy week. She had a cold which lingered and then just as she was over it she caught another. I caught something but got rid of it quickly. But have barely slept due to alternating night nose-blowing and/or coughing, and gale-force winds. The latter which destroyed her trampoline and some garden furniture and kept cutting off the electricity. On top of it all, feeling creatively frustrated.

Oh dear, I really needed to look back and remind myself of the moments.



.
m&ms
.
seasonal peppers
.
making a great red pepper chutney
.
when she fell asleep with her little hands cradling my face
.
soup season
.
that she won't simply take my word for it
.
relaxed time with friends
.
3G moments
.
that she doesn't have to have what other kids are having
.
watching her learn when she sees it as play
.


joy pockets


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Thursday, October 13

alphabet

The alphabet, as in the letter names, is not, in my opinion, the most helpful thing to learn pre-reading skills. We speak and read in sounds not letter names.

The letter names we need to learn, the sounds they already have.

So for that reason, besides also that she's only 31/2 and has no need to learn anything remotely academic, I have kept away from the alphabet. She had a short burst of sounding out first letter sounds some time ago, where she enjoyed saying, muh for mama, luh for light, and so forth. Off her own volition.


But a child that watches Sesame Street, Dora, Maisy and reads related books, can't be kept from the alphabet. And about 2 months ago she suddenly fell in love with letters. And when I wasn't looking, she learnt the ABC song. And, amusingly, says the American Zee as well as the British Zed in turns. She loves to sing it.

Since this new love affair I have supported her cues to learning and we say letters once in a while. I've bought her a couple of ABC books. I'm trying to steer back to letter sounds.

She calls me to help her with putting the letters in order, although she gets tired/bored by the last 6 or so. I 'help', by prompting, 'which is next?', or indicating when she skipped one.


Today I gave her a new set of animal magnets we bought her and thought to test which letters she knew for certain. Just out of curiosity.


So she picked an animal out of a bag, and I asked her what it was and then what letter did it begin with, and then asked her to find that letter.

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, o, p, r, s, t, w, x, y, z

Hesitant on j, n, q, u, v
Although I swear she knows n.

I just love watching a child learn and teach themselves, and out of pure self-motivation. I love watching in action the proof that children don't need teachers.

Friday, October 7

joy pockets #27



.
Miss 3 enjoying the Budapest zoo
.
luxury tea
.
her love of bugs
.
watching her learn from her own initiative
.
birthday wishes
.
birthday presents
.
Autumn breezes
.
seasonal pears
.
that she asked for a real magic wand, that works
.



joy pockets


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Friday, September 16

joy pockets #26

Little Miss 3 was ill with a mysterious stomach thing, yet no real symptoms but lethargy and little appetite.
Not much sleep and of course much concern is tiring.
Then last night she tried my dessert and there was (unknown to me) egg white in it and she was ill. argh!
She's all better now and we're looking forward to going on travels up north.



.
the allergic reaction for Miss 3 at least gone within 30mins
.
snail mail
.
mail gifts from a friend
.
tiramisu
.
massages
.
laughter
.
warm but not too hot days
.
the choice of not visiting the doctor for Miss 3 being the right one
.




joy pockets


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Wednesday, September 14

well-behaved

The lovely Jen asked on her blog...
I need to learn to teach/model behavior so that my child does not make decisions solely from a fear of disapproval. I have created that. I need help undoing it. Can you help me?

As my comment was becoming an essay, and it's a worthy topic for us all, I decided to respond here.

It's difficult to break patterns. My own mother was exceedingly impatient. I, with my Aries ascendant and upbringing, have a very impatient streak. I have to work hard at reining it in.

As far as discipline is concerned, there runs the spectrum from radical unschooling type let-them-run-wild-and-free to total authoritarian control. We have to choose what works for us and our family. I don't judge anyone their choice, we can find pros and cons in all approaches.

What interests me is finding a place where we personally, in our most honest moments, feel at peace with our choices.

For me, it's always about starting with myself first. Changing how I view certain things. In this instance asking oneself
what exactly does it mean to be well behaved and do I stand firm in those definitions?

For me personally, the term 'well-behaved' makes me prickle and feel very uneasy. Because what it usually means is a child behaving in a way that the adult deems unlikely to cause inconvenience to them (the adult).
It means a controlled child. An oppressed, repressed, and fearful child.

Desiring a well-behaved child is a 100% selfish goal.

What most authoritarian parents seem to expect, is being quiet, remaining still, not drawing attention to yourself, producing correct answers (please, thank you, yes Miss, no sir), doing what you're told, not questioning adults, not 'talking back', not acting your age....

This has nothing to do with learning to be responsible, respectful, or co-operative.



So this is one of the two main concerns for me - a child behaving in a way because it's what they are told to do is not the same as a child behaving in a way because they want to.

I am one of those people that feel that please and thank yous are good things to say. To me it shows respect and appreciation of others. However, I don't want my girl to say thank you as a mechanical response because I enforce it.

The Mr and I say please/thank you to her. In other words, we model what we wish to see. More accurately, we model what we wish to be, respectful. I don't teach her respect, I simply respect her.

The other concern is what we help them to believe about themselves. This is a biggie!

When a child drops what she is doing because you have commanded her to do something else, we teach her
- my needs/wants are inferior to other people's.
- what I do is not important.

When a child does not have the space to 'talk back', to argue a point, we teach him
- my voice is worthless
- I have no right to self-expression

The exact outcome depends on the child's innate personality. A child who is more sensitive or eager to please might internalise the above as
- I am worthless 
For a selective and particular child it might become
- I am worthless unless I am perfect
A spirited and strong-willed child might internalise it as
- I must push others down to feel better about myself

I don't view my child as an inferior being that I can control to my desires. I wouldn't demand compliance of a stranger, a friend, nor my husband. Why do we demand it of our children? Because they are smaller, more impressionable, weaker?

Love is a verb. It isn't enough that they hear that we love them. I want how I treat her to speak louder.


Monday, September 12

chalk drawing

Although you've drawn many pictures, you have always preferred colouring and playing with colours. So it was a surprise when you picked up some chalk and drew a whole scene off your own volition!




Sunday, August 21

i want to be a dog


"Mama, I want to be a dog..."
(awww) "yes darling, you can be a dog."
"...so that I can lick my bottom."
"erm....."

Friday, June 10

joy pockets



blanching/peeling nuts side-by-side
watching her chase butterflies
her grown-up self getting on with it at the beach with friends
baking
a new little being
time to create
sea scents
home-made ice-cream



I'm now hosting joy pockets at my other blog.


Monday, June 6

pushing out

There comes a time that sort of sneaks up on you. Even if you have, subconsciously or otherwise, requested it on those crazy busy loud days, it still takes you by surprise.

At some point, your baby is no more, your toddler has snuck away, and you have in front of you a little girl or boy. And their growth and maturity surprises you daily, but you expected that.

What you forgot to prepare for was the pushing and pulling away.




She still needs you - but not as much. She still wants you - but not as much. She can, do it myself. Yet she doesn't know the balance yet, because right now, around age three, it's all about testing the outer limits of life. How far she can stretch herself yet still have the security of you.

And if you were even slightly prepared for this stage, knowing that the pulling and stretching was coming, you forgot that you too were part of the dance. That the relationship was going to be stretched by both of you.

Somewhere inside, you have been growing yourself, to be ready for this stage. Perhaps we fight it, perhaps we've been crying for it, but it comes anyways.

So you seem more irritable than usual. Co-sleeping is pushing your buttons, zero tolerance on any whining or clothes pulling, annoyed at the lack of co-operation or ability - because she did this yesterday perfectly, right? - and yet another request for 'up'...... Just as she is uncertain if she wants or doesn't want, and what that want is exactly, so are you.

Are you hormonal, just plain grouchy, a bad mother?

No, you're just both ready, life is ready, - to move to the next stage of your mother-child connection. The energetic cords created at conception begin their obvious dissolution right now. It's necessary, inevitable, desirable... and painful.



Suddenly aware of what's occurring, you breathe deeper when the irritability rises, recognising it as an external sign of the internal shifting.

And you scoop her up, because the day she won't want that ever again is the next stage.


Thursday, June 2

joy pockets



watching her gobble up cream cheese
just a little cold each
booking the flights to England (23rd)
finishing a good book
sneaking in fish into her veg puree
a cross-stitch give-away
when she accepted veg BITS in her soup
Stacy spreading her wings at her new site
the possibility of a painting
Maggie's series on a decentralised food system


share with me your joy pockets this week


Monday, May 30

water

Definitely not a water baby, but you love playing with it. Always asking for water in a bucket in the garden. Usually to stir with a stick, plop stones in, or to used to 'write' on rocks.


You love 'washing up'.
This means pouring water in and out of receptacles, washing various toys (mostly the dinosaurs) and wet paper around the sink. One of the few activities that holds your interest for a long time.


You have yet to venture in all the way, being a cautious kiddo. But this year you seem keener and keener. So far we've only visited the beach to get our feet wet, so we'll see when we go properly what you decide to do.
You love splashing and throwing stones in.


How are your kids with water?


Friday, May 27

joy pockets

this little ray of light


you're my best friend mama (!?)
tea by the sea
ice cream in waffle cones
receiving my won give-away package
blogs without word verification
a distant horizon in the early morn
beach time
re-awakening the studio
journaling again


share with me your joy pockets this week

joyfully:
Lisa @ My World Edenwild
MJ @ Wander, Wonder, Discover
Septembermom @ My Voice, My View
The Wild Magnolia - welcome!