Monday, May 24, 2010

A little more Autumn Botanic Beauty

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. ~Stanley Horowitz

It is always the smallest things in life which make my heart flutter and renew and restore my soul. Outings with my family to the great outdoors are one of those things which really make me smile and remind me that life is grand.

We visited Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills for a second time this Autumn so we could share with our Generous Gentleman some of the majestic beauty of this serene, yet surprisingly busy place. Many others joined us in wandering the park's paths simply taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the outdoors with family members before the weather changes and we find ourselves staying indoors more often, letting the wind and rain and colder days pass by.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Visiting France

France is France and a grand place for Frenchman.
~Harry Truman, letter to Bess Wallace, 5 May 1918

Oh how I wish we had been in France this past week or so but alas, we have merely joined hands with Madeline to explore the city of Paris together.

Madeline (Picture Puffin S.)

I am enthralled with the way literature encourages my little ones to explore the world around them with greater depth. First and foremost, the greatest highlight for Ess has been travelling the world with her new 'Continents of the World' map which she uses to discover the location of the countries featured in the stories we read, visiting their capital cities, locating which countries are in which continents, whether surrounded by land or sea, and observing borders of continents and how they connect. We also love using Google Maps to find places we explore and see them come into closer view as we zoom in for a new perspective. Ess particularly loves grabbing that 'little Google man' to take him to the streets to explore the current day view of the city. (A skill her Aunty Diane taught her she tells me).

We have enjoyed singing many French children's songs including Frere Jacques, Alouette, Les Jolis Papillons and Sur Le Pont D'Avignon.

Beyond the exploration of our world in a Geographical sense, we also explored concepts of number including that of Symmetry. Ess decorated two rows of paper dolls to be Madeline and her friends of that 'old house in Paris, covered in vines' and stood them in two symmetrical lines. We also drew pictures in symmetry, explored symmetry with a mirror, scoured the artwork of the book to see whether the illustrator had used the concept of symmetry in his drawings and when the illustrations were assymetrical - particularly in the arrangements of the 'twelve little girls in two straight lines'.

Symmetry: the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts
facing each other or around an axis.

Perhaps the most fun symmetrical activity we enjoyed was our artwork. The girls made myriad symmetrical butterflies which were lovingly placed around the garden to dry. I remember enjoying making butterflies with my paints as a child and then often spent hours with Ess when she was younger making butterflies.

This was however, the first time little Eee had explored placing paint in the centre of the paper, folding it in half then squelching the paint to move it to the furthest edges of the paper. Oh the delight as she opened her paper to see the ensuing butterfly - a painting in perfect symmetry.

We also enjoyed building the Eiffel Tower from Lego with lots of help from Daddy and of course, lots of symmetry...well almost. (Ess was actually just repairing this after I knocked it over in an attempt to clean up).

This week we have crossed the English Channel from France to the White Cliffs of Dover with Papa Blériot in The Glorious Flight.

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot
We have continued enjoying our French songs and speaking in French using our s'il vous plaît's and merci beaucoup's at the dinner table. We've explored more with the flag and with art, this time exploring the perspective of looking up and down and drawing the same scene or object from different angles, after critically analysing the lovely artwork forming the illustrations of the story.

And so much more...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Glimpses of a Busy Weekend in Adelaide

A couple of concerts and a family outing

Ghana in Groove

Bridge over the river Torrens

A visit to see Wang Wang and Funi

at the Adelaide Zoo

glimpsed at while wandering through the Autumn evening

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Autumn in Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

We visited Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens with our new homeschooling group. Every leaf certainly did seem to be a flower, the colours were vibrant and each new form took our fancy as we wandered and celebrated the beauty of Autumn.

The air was brisk, very brisk and we were grateful for the stillness. Up here in the Adelaide Hills I don't think the temp climbed above 12degC all day. The warmth of the sun was very much appreciated on the odd occasion it appeared through the clouds to warm our backs.

Perhaps these brisk mornings after cooler nights of the last week will cause this lovely tree to turn a little further shortly.

Plane tree leaves, fallen from their summer place of abode, were admired and collected.

The tiniest of flowers were spotted, each little one seemed to be able to find a flower in their favourite colour - generally either pink or purple.

The camelias were beautiful and a big hit with the children. So striking, my Ess considered it a rose.

A beautiful place to sit and contemplate. I spotted my Ess here with her new friend but by the time I gathered my camera together it was a vacant space again. Had I sat down I am sure contemplation would have drawn me in and I would have sat here many moments longer.

Here the children lingered after lunch. Many many moments were spent gathering fallen leaves, making piles and piles which were fallen upon and then rebuilt, over and over. Many many leaves were tossed high into the air to fall back down to the ground over heads and little bodies squealing with delight.

It is wonderful to watch children play together with nothing needed other than what is around them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Photo Tag Challenge

Driving through the back o' Bourke

Homestay Mama of Home to the World tagged me in the Photo Tag Challenge.
The directions were:

1) Go to your photo files, select the 8th photo folder.
2) Select the 8th photo in that folder.
3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.
4) Then challenge 8 blogging friends to do the same!
Easy peasy!

The above photo was taken in Bourke, outback Australia while we were on a driving trip from Adelaide to my home town of Moree, New South Wales. The sun is setting and dusk has fallen in the garden of the motel we stayed at, Bourke Riverside Motel. The gardens were lovely and an oasis in the somewhat questionable streets of Bourke. It is sad that many businesses have their front doors "boarded up" in this town. We had just returned from a walk downtown to grab a bite to eat. I think we decided on Chinese but can't remember for certain.

Ess and I are snuggled up on the garden seat while my Generous Gentleman snaps this shot of a very tired pair. I was pregnant with little Eee but didn't realise at this stage so that means Ess was almost 3 years, but not quite! It's three and half years ago.

Now to tag a few of you:

That'll have to do for now :)

Just follow the "easy peasy" rules above and I can't wait to see what photos appear.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Mummy" Day

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

We celebrated Mother's Day here yesterday so I cordially extend best wishes to you my lovely readers who are mothers yourselves.

I consider myself very fortunate that yesterday was special for me for numerous reasons, too plentiful to mention here.

Gifts from my treasures

Our day commenced with sunshine beautifully streaming into our bedroom after a sleep-in afforded us by two little girls who had been unwell. Yes, sadly my family had had a tummy bug all last week and the girls were still recovering from it. Indeed my Generous Gentleman was still unwell and I was not anticipating that much could be celebrated on the day as we were likely to need to have a toilet close to hand.

He was however, very brave and very generous and was keen to venture out. So we headed to the foreshores of the beach so the girls could ride and we could walk, and at least I could enjoy some food, cake and coffee at our favourite spots in Semaphore - Cafe Froot and Sarah's Sisters Sustainability Cafe.

Earlier in the week, Ess had become aware that Mother's Day was around the corner so in her free time she banished me from her room with a sign saying "No Mummy In" displayed carefully on her door at poignant moments. I was delighted to see the results of her independent creative time with me at the centre of her thoughts - a book for me, made by my fellow book-lover and all on her very own. I wasn't even asked to provide supplies.

Her favourite stickers were included, along with sweet little notes inserted through out.

There were many drawings of her favourite fairy friends. Here is Lily the Rainforest Fairy with Rachel and Kirsty, hovering over a rainforest canopy.

The book finishes with Ess imploring me to "Have Fun!" as she farewells me.

We did share a lovely day together despite the difficulties and not all expectations being filled. Why is it that for one day of the year we Mums expect our children to ask us nicely each time they want something, to maintain polite manners, to not have to negotiate? We accept the challenges every other day. My girls are still very little and are only just beginning to show independence in showing their love for me for this special day. They still have their little people needs and will provide me with challenges no matter what day it is.

Expecting less is one key to ensuring that you enjoy more.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Volcanic Eruptions

In light of the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland recently, which coincidently interrupted Ess and Eee's uncle and aunty's move to Northern Ireland, along with our scientific study of energy we have been exploring volcanoes. Stories of Mt Vesuvius in Italy particularly took Ess' fancy as well as a great interactive website enabling you to set the viscosity and gas levels of potentials volcanoes and see the resulting eruptions.

Today we have made our own volcanic eruption at home with some hard work, enjoyment, excitement, anticipation and a little fear of the unknown as the volcano began to erupt in our bathroom. :) Little Eee was particularly frightened and rushed back to sit on my knee as she saw the "lava" emerge. This soon calmed as intrigue set in.

The instructions we followed can be found here.

Ess and Eee helped measure, pour and mix to create an enormous batch of playdough, which required lots of kneading to bring it all together. We coloured the dough with a little green food colouring.

The quickest job was building the volcano around a bottle which had been filled with a mixture of water, oil, dish washing liquid and brown vinegar.

After inserting some tissue filled with bicarb soda and waiting and watching for a few long seconds, our volcano began erupting.

Lava continued bubbling out of the crater, exiting the magma chamber, for quite some time.

The volcano was quite happy to continue erupting over and over as more bicarb and vinegar were inserted, providing great entertainment and intrigue for a couple of curious little girls watching from afar, not quite certain just how far all this would all go.

I am very grateful we live where we do - in a country where the most recent volcano was hundreds of years ago. I cannot imagine the fear of living life day to day knowing that soon there might be a volcanic eruption just down the road. Seeing the fear in my little girls as they stood watching such a small, yet unknown commodity in the form of a chemical reaction in our bathroom has caused me to be thankful for our circumstances which we take for granted. I hope they will never know the fear resulting from being in the vicinity of a live volcano.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Autumn Planting

Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt.
That's why I love vegetables, you know what they're about! ~Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

We spent some time in the sunshine and warmth of this morning enjoying some Autumn planting. Here Ess is carefully positioning her freesias which we have planted year by year. We also planted some Asian greens - Mizuna, Mibuna, Tah Tsai and Mustard Greens, along with peas, Cos lettuce, radish seed and pansies, pink of course. I can't wait for them all to flourish so our garden will look fresh, green and cared for again. The month we were on the road took its toll on my garden, and while rain freshened much of it just before our return, many of my summer herbs were looking very very tired and dried. Many of them will renew, yet at present there are many dry sticks and twigs.

Look at my poor perennial basil here, usually it is full of leaves and blossom attracting abundant bees. I have pruned it back by at least three quarters here to let some new shoots take hold, we'll see what happens. The lawn is just terrible also. Little Eee is helping us tidy it with her own scissors here.

We have been home from our driving holiday for almost a couple of weeks now. The time has flown as I've been establishing new routines for us. We are in a new stage in our lives with Ess now being homeschooled. It is a positive experience for our family yet involves changes in the way my day flows.

In many ways there is lots more freedom. I am now not bound to someone else's clock with another's demands imposed on me. The clock is ours and it is up to me to choose what to do when and encourage my children to enjoy their lives and their learning. As you might imagine sometimes this is easier than other times, as on occasion the children do not have the same idea as I do. Things are progressing well however and Ess is learning that she will have lots of free time to accomplish her own ideas as well as spend some time participating in activities which are guided by Mum. I am aiming for these to be in the morning while we all enjoy some freer time and rest time in the afternoons. Today it is going!

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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